Challenges await area teams

PARKERSBURG – With the cooperation of Mother Nature, a quartet of Little Kanawha Conference softball programs will be competing at 5 p.m. today for the chance to win a regional semifinal game and advance to within one more triumph of qualifying for the state tournament.

LKC champion Ritchie County will play host in Ellenboro to 17-10 Oak Glen, which has won six straight games, in a Class AA, Region I, semifinal.

The 23-4 Rebels played two games on Tuesday in order to stay sharp for the postseason, going 1-1 with a 1-0 setback to University and an easy 12-2 victory against Liberty (Harrison). Kenna DeLancey suffered the loss against the Hawks despite firing a two-hitter with 12 strikeouts. Versus the Mountaineers, Abby Burgess had three RBIs while Moie Ray, Becca Sullivan, Rachel Haddox and Kirsten Seese had two runs-batted-in apiece.

“We’re not hitting the ball like we did last year. We’re just not there,” said Ritchie County head coach Dave Mossor, who is still undecided whether to start DeLancey or Ray against the Golden Bears.

St. Marys (14-11) will try and advance to the Class A, Region I championship game next week when the Blue Devils welcome Clay-Battelle (7-15) to Belmont.

The Blue Devils have been led by pitcher Kendra Becker, who is hitting .481, as well as Alyssa Fetty (.489 AVG, 10 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 18 RBIs, 21 SB) and Mikaela Britton (.384 AVG, 7 2B, 4 3B, 11 RBIs, 19 SB).

In Elizabeth, visiting Williamstown (19-8) will attempt to knock off Wirt County for a third straight time.

The Tigers, who are 20-8 for head coach Aaron Hill, have homefield advantage. Courtney Casto, who has a sub 2.00 ERA, is the likely starting pitching with Shania Tanner (.447 AVG) acting as the other half of the battery.

“The girls are excited about playing and this is the latest in the year they’ve ever been playing. Our senior class, this is the first year they’ve gotten out of sectionals and that was a big step for us, this team and the program,” Hill said of getting past nemesis Gilmer County.

“Gilmer County has been a thorn in our side the last couple years and getting out of the sectional was a big step and it gave the girls some confidence. If we get our bats to where they usually are and cut down on our mistakes, I think we’ve got a pretty good shot.”

Williamstown, which won 3-2 at home with Cierra King pitching and then 10-8 at home versus the Tigers with sister Nellie King pitching, has been led offensively by Emrie Gray and Ashton Chancellor.

“We have to hit the ball,” said Yellowjacket head coach Ron Stanley, who said both Kings could pitch today. “I consider us an aggressive batting team and our infield has really improved this year over last year.

“We feel really confident when we score a lot of runs. That’s our key. We hit the ball and everybody gets excited.”

Things should be exciting in New Martinsville today when Magnolia plays host to 24-2 Wheeling Central at 5:30 p.m. in the other Class A, Region I, semifinal.

The Maroon Knights scored a 1-0 victory on March 27 against the Blue Eagles at Magnolia in their only meeting.

If today’s contest is canceled due to weather conditions, it’s already been announced Friday’s game will start at either 2:30 p.m. or 3 p.m.