State softball coaches unfazed by changes to tournament slate

VIENNA –On the eve of the 2019 state softball championships, competing teams from across the state gathered around to celebrate their collective efforts this season. The celebration took place Tuesday at the community building on 34th street in Vienna, and it served as the calm before the storm for every team taking part in tournament games.

Amidst the loud music and good time had by the athletes was a schedule change. Field 2 at Jackson Park was made unavailable for the upcoming game due to its unplayable condition.

With the change in effect, the first games (Single-A Wheeling Central Catholic vs Sherman and AAA Wheeling Park vs Hurricane) on the two remaining fields start at 9 a.m. Both Wheeling Central and Hurricane are defending champions in their respective classes, and the scheduling change isn’t going to distract either team from their goal of winning another championship.

“They’re really, really focused,” Hurricane skipper Meghan Stevens said of her four-time defending state championship team. “They always do a good job. This is a business trip, and we’re not just here to play. We’re here to win.”

Wheeling Central’s Buck Davidson shared a similar sentiment about his Maroon Knights, even though they don’t have as much experience under their belts.

“They’re still a little bit nervous, but they’re starting to relax more,” Davidson said. “Hopefully when we get ready for the game, we realize we just need to go out there and play the game.”

Plenty of teams are making first-time appearances in Vienna, and the importance of finally making it was not lost on Independence head coach Ken Adkins. Adkins, the fifth-year head man, is making his first state championship push with this team.

“They’re excited,” he said. “I’ve got a senior-laden group. I’ve got six seniors that start, so it’ll be a big deal. It’s kind of the culmination of a lot of hard work.”