Ritchie trio make first team

VIENNA – When you win back-to-back Class AA state softball titles, there is little doubt that your coaching staff has developed a solid plan on how to be successful.

Case in point are the Wayne Pioneers of head coach Tish Smith.

Making the trek back to the Rosemar Softball Complex in search of a repeat championship, the veteran head coach realized that a lot of her team’s hopes rested on the arm of junior hurler Jessie Rowe.

A two-time, first team all-state performer, Rowe took to the pitching rubber in the Pioneers’ opening contest against last year’s state runner-up Ritchie County and hurled a complete-game, four-hitter to lead Wayne to a 4-1 victory. She followed that performance with a six-hitter in a 14-1 victory over James Monroe in the winners’ bracket semifinals.

But those would not be the only highlights of her second trip to the state finals as Rowe took to the mound on the tournament’s final day and pitched a two-hitter as the Pioneers three-peated with a 5-1 win over James Monroe.

“Jessie (Rowe) is just a phenomenal little player,” said Smith. “She has an extraordinary ability to place the ball with four of her pitches.

“She never gets rattled. The more pressure, the better she performs.”

And perform Rowe did, pitching all 18 innings during the two-day event, allowing 12 hits, three runs (only two earned) and walking three batters while striking out 19.

It is little reason why Rowe is among the 18 girls selected to the Class AA First Team All-State Softball team selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

Rowe, her teammate Jessica Watts, Herbert Hoover’s Allison Rager and Braxton County’s Charity Ramsey are all repeat selections, while Robert C. Byrd’s Mecca Henderson made the move from Class AAA to Class AA by being chosen.

Joining Rowe on the team’s five-girl pitching staff is Rager, Henderson, Petersburg’s Marley Thompson and Ritchie County’s Moie Ray. Henderson closed out her time at RCB by striking out 198 batters in 173 innings of work, while Thompson brought the Vikings back to Vienna as the junior posted an 11-3 mark with 74 strikeouts and a 1.14 earned run average.

Ray, only a sophomore, finished with a 15-2 mark, striking out 85 batters she faced during the season and had a 1.23 ERA.

Manning the infield are Watts, a .328 hitter, Sissonville’s Alexee Haynes, Scott’s Allyson Johnson, Laine Shifflett from James Monroe and Brittany Bible from Petersburg.

Haynes, who posted an 8-3 pitching record, batted .506 at the plate with six home runs and 30 runs-batted-in, while Shifflett, the Mavericks top hitter with a .486 average, and Bible (.479, 5 HR, 31 RBIs) were big reasons for their teams making it to Vienna.

The first-team outfield is made up of Ramsey, Wyoming East’s Chelsea Duncan and Herbert Hoover’s Mikayla Craze.

Ramsey, a senior, made the most of her final season in Sutton by hitting .508 at the plate, including two home runs, three triples and six doubles. Duncan, also a senior, hit at a .535 clip and amassed 20 doubles on the season.

Catchers named to the first unit include Robert C. Byrd’s Katie Powell and Ritchie County’s Abby Burgess, while the three utility spots are manned by the Mavericks’ Mikayla Wickline, Wayne’s Kasey Endicott and the Rebels’ Kenna DeLancey.

Powell put together quite a senior season, hitting .560 at the plate with four home runs and 16 RBIs, while Burgess, who was taking over a position manned by four-time, first-team performer Allison DeLancey, made the most of her first season behind the plate by hitting .444 with a pair of round-trippers and 23 RBIs.

And while those numbers are impressive, they pale in comparison to those posted by the unit’s trio of utility players.

Wickline, a senior, posted an 11-2 pitching mark and was one of the Mavericks’ top hitters, while Endicott hit .377 with eight home runs, but more importantly played flawless softball at her third base position.

Rounding out the trio is DeLancey, only a freshman. In her first season of varsity softball all DeLancey did was hit a lofty .602 at the plate with nine home runs, 10 triples, six doubles and 47 RBIs and 44 stolen bases. On the mound, she posted a 13-1 mark with 118 strikeouts in 84 innings of work.

Numbers that earned her the captain’s spot on the unit.

Named to the second team as pitchers were Lincoln’s Sami Elder, Braxton County’s Taylor Bragg, Westside’s Cassidee Blankenship, Roane County’s Casey Lassiter and Erin Wambaugh of Grafton.

The unit’s infield includes Cassidy Ray of Ritchie County, Tori Rovello of Bridgeport, Robert C. Byrd’s Alicia Noble (captain), Allison Pritt of Braxton County, and Allison Winans of Lincoln.

Tori Postlewait of East Fairmont, Emily Fry of Wayne and Kaitlyn Keplinger of Petersburg make up the outfield while the Indians’ Miki Glenn and Ravenswood’s Sidnee Morgan are the catchers.

Named as second team utility players are Bekah Baldwin of Sissonville, Danielle Fluharty of North Marion and Ravenswood’s Katie Buckbee.