State softball tournament underway

Sherman, Hoover, Hurricane in driver’s seat after day one

Photo by Joe Albright Sherman Tide pitcher Autumn Thompson fires home to an awaiting Wheeling Central Maroon Knights’ batter during the Tide’s 8-1 state tournament opening win over the Knights Wednesday at Jackson Park’s Field Three. Thompson fired a complete-game, three-hit effort with 11 strikeouts.

VIENNA — An ideal day, outside of Jackson Park’s Field Two being deemed unplayable, graced the opening day of the 2019 state softball tournament Wednesday.

The sun shone brightly as the four regional championships from each classification endured intense battles. One school from each class would see their season end before the championships would be decided later today.

Reigning champions in Class AAA’s Hurricane Redskins and Class AA’s Herbert Hoover both walked away with a pair of wins. Meaning both would have to be beaten twice on Day 2 to be eliminated.

Class A defending champion Wheeling Central has a little less room for error after an 8-1 loss to the Sherman Tide in their opener. Still, the Knights are three-time defending champions for a reason and anything can happen in softball.

Here is how we arrived at championship Thursday:

GAME 4: Hurricane 9, G. Washington 0 (5 inn.)

VIENNA — In a showdown of 31-6 programs, four-time defending state champ Hurricane cruised past George Washington in five innings, 9-0.

Harlie Vannatter had five strikeouts during her four-hitter and losing pitcher Brianna McCown allowed eight hits and seven earned in four innings.

The Redskins got the only run they needed when freshman leadoff hitter Alivia Meeks hit a solo homer on a 3-2 offering to open the game.

HHS added four more runs in the third and two each in the fourth and fifth innings. Caiti Mathes, who had a two-run moon shot to center in the fifth, also had an RBI double in the third. Taylor McCray had an RBI single and Zoey Dunlap also had a run-scoring double. Vannatter even got an RBI on a fielder’s choice squeeze.

No. 8 hitter Rachel Lyon doubled in Emily Bennett in the fifth and No. 9 hitter Reagan Schultz contributed a sac fly.

Mountain State Athletic Conference champion George Washington entered the tournament 2-0 versus the Redskins this spring.

GAME 3: Washington 11. Wheeling Park 3 (6 inn.)

Wheeling Park finished its season at 13-13 after watching a 3-0 lead in the third slip away.

WPHS got a bases-clearing three-run double from losing pitcher Ashley Linder against winning hurler Taylor Cenate.

However, Washington answered with two runs in the last of third, two more in the fourth and then a seven-run fifth.

Mackenzie Myers and Kylie Condon had an RBI apiece in the third and WHS (27-2) went ahead for good on Katie Dubyak’s two-run tater in the fourth.

The highlight of the seven-run frame was a two-run homer to center by Hannah Ruffner. Jordyn Brown had an RBI free pass while Madison Cenate also had a two-run double. Brown scored on a wild pitch to end it.

GAME 2: G. Washington 4. Washington 2

McCown pitched a complete game, had 10 strikeouts and George Washington scored thrice in the top of the seventh in a battle of the Patriots.

GW struck with a run in the first when McCown’s RBI single plated courtesy runner Ava Wells.

WHS got a run in the second when Taylor Cenate scored on Madison Carlisle’s RBI single. Washington went ahead 2-1 when Brittany Cenate reached on a bunt single, stole second and scored on an error.

The fateful three-run seventh was started by Katy Darnell’s double. Grace Smith followed with an RBI single and Emma Groe, who went 3 for 3, had an RBI double. Kalissa Lacy drew a bases-loaded RBI free pass for the final run.

GAME 1: Hurricane 8, Wheeling Park 0 (6 inn.)

Vannatter fired a six-inning one-hitter with one walk and eight strikeouts.

The only hit for the Patriots came via a one-out single in the third by Lydia Simon. Kieran Johnson coaxed a one-out walk in the fourth.

Bennett had a Little League home run when she laced a two-out triple to right and scored on a throwing error in the second.

McCray and Dunlap had RBI hits in the third for the Redskins, who got a run-scoring single by Meeks in the fourth.

Dunlap added a solo bomb to left in the fifth and Schultz’ three-run jack in the sixth ended it.


GAME 4: Herbert Hoover 3, Petersburg 0

Delani Buckner and Presley McGee combined to pitch a shutout to put Herbert Hoover in the driver’s seat in the Class AA state softball tournament.

Hoover defeated Petersburg 3-0 in the winner’s bracket Wednesday at Jackson Park and are one win away from the state title today.

Buckner’s sacrifice fly plated Hoover’s first run in the fourth. Later, another Buckner, Grayson, blasted a two-run home run to dead center to give the defending double-A champs all the cushion they would need.

McGee pitched the first five innings to earn the win while Delani Buckner earned the two-inning save after striking out the side on nine pitches in the sixth.

Carly Cooper took the loss for the Vikings.

GAME 3: Independence 9, Nitro 1 (5 inn.)

Savannah Bragg’s two-run bomb put the exclamation point on Independence’s 9-1 win over Nitro in the loser’s bracket game Wednesday.

The Patriots took a 3-0 lead in the first on four hits, including Kaylen Parks’ RBI single to get the scoring started.

Nitro got one of those runs back in the third thanks to an Independence error, but the Patriots broke things open in the fifth. The rally was fueled by Bragg’s shot off the scoreboard. Ashleigh Sexton ended things with a solo shot to center make it an eight-run game.

Bella Savilla took the loss for Nitro, which exited the tournament with the defeat.

Bragg earned the pitching win for the Patriots. She was pulled after five innings after reaching her innings limit.

GAME 2: Petersburg 1, Nitro 0

Nitro Wildcat Bella Savilla pitched a wonderful game as her team made its state tournament debut, but she probably wants the first two at-bats back against the Petersburg Vikings.

Katie Koontz fired a leadoff single then scored the only run of the game one batter later. Savilla’s mound counterpart Carly Cooper then lofted a ball to right field in the second at bat that was misplayed by the Wildcats’ Lauren McClung for a two-base error.

Those hits were two of just three allowed by the Savilla, who struck out ten and walked none in seven innings.

Cooper though hurled an even better outing. She made sure her one run of support held up with a two-hit, complete-game effort for the Vikings. She left the door unlocked for Nitro with five walks, but 14 strikeouts held the frame in place.

Mackenzie Kitzmiller tripled in the second for the only other hit for Petersburg. Sydni Cawley’s sixth-inning double and Morgan Burdette’s seventh-inning single were the only other hits for the Wildcats.

Burdette’s connection came five innings too late. Nitro’s best chance to score rested in her hands after Jordan Nelson advanced to third via a walk, sacrifice hit and stolen base.

Burdette though swung through a 2-2 pitch for strike three.

GAME 1: Herbert Hoover 1, Independence 0 (9 inn.)

The defending state champions received a stout test right out of the gate Wednesday afternoon and they passed in extra innings.

After the Herbert Hoover Huskies and the Independence Patriots each squandered multiple opportunities for a W in regulation, the Huskies Taylor Carpenter rocketed an RBI single into centerfield that scored Rebekah Woody for a 1-0 victory.

Woody reached on a single, advanced on a sac bunt from teammate and sister Caroline, before finding her way home for the deciding run.

Of course, both starting pitchers in the Huskies’ Delani Buckner and Indy’s Savannah Bragg had plenty to do with the length of the game.

Both went the distance and consistently came up big in huge spots for their teams. Each always came up with a strikeout or a defensive gem when they needed it.

No diamond delight aided either’s cause more than Huskie catcher Jessica Canterbury’s pickoff of her counterpart Riley Adkins at third base with no outs in the seventh. Runners were on second and third and the Adkins could have been the game-winning run. Teammate Caroline Parrish fired a flyout to left field possibly deep enough to plate Adkins. It was the second time in the game the Patriots broke the cardinal rule of making the first or last out at the last stop before home plate.

Overall, both teams left 13 players on base and batters struck out a combined 19 times until Carpenter’s winning knock.


GAME 4: Sherman 7, Clay-Battelle 0

VIENNA –The Sherman Tide move one step closer to capturing their first team state championship in school history as they beat Clay-Battelle in a 7-0 shutout.

The win for the Tide (32-4) means they only have to win one more game to capture the title. The Cee-Bees (25-3) must defeat Wheeling Central Catholic to have another shot at the Tide. Then, they would have to beat Sherman twice in order to take the Single-A gold home to Blacksville.

Autumn Thompson hurled a complete game for the Tide, and she helped her own effort at the plate. Going 3 for 3 at the dish, she notched a double to deep left and eventually scored on a wild pitch to score the contest’s first run. With runs coming across in the second and fifth, Sherman looked to add on to a 3-0 lead. Caitlyn Kassay fanned 11 batters in relief for CB and was hard to hit. That was until a four-run sixth spelled the end of any comeback hopes.

An error and wild pitch helped two runners score. Then, a sac-bunt from Thompson and RBI from Sydnee Ferrell accounted for the last two tallies in this one-sided matchup.

GAME 3: Wheeling Central Catholic 9, Greenbrier West 3

VIENNA –In a win or go home scenario, Wheeling Central Catholic rose to the challenge. The defending state champions eliminated Greenbrier West, 9-3.

The Cavaliers (21-7) end their season on a down, as they were handled by Central’s Madison LeMasters on the mound. She pitched a complete game and helped keep the Maroon Knights (14-8) alive to see another day in Vienna.

“Leave it all on the field,” Central’s Buck Davidson said after the game. “We won’t hold anything back, and we’ll play as hard as we can on every play.”

That was the theme of the Knights’ offensive performance, as well. A sacrifice fly from Jaden Thomas kicked off the scoring affair. Then, Jarika Baylor scored on a wild pitch from Camryn Dorsey to make it 2-0 after one.

A couple more runs came in in the third, as Jessica Miller and Peyton Knight delivered back-to-back RBI singles. Fielding errors on three consecutive at-bats put the nail in West’s coffin, as four runs came across to put the game out of reach. Even a 3-run sixth from the Cavs couldn’t get them within striking distance. As a result, Central plays Clay-Battelle in another elimination game at 9 a.m.

GAME 2: Clay-Battelle 2, Greenbrier West 1 (9 inn.)

Clay-Battelle CeeBees’ pitcher Caitlyn Kassay and Greenbrier West Cavalier Kenley Posten both shone brightly in their respective state tournament debuts.

Stingy accurately sums up each’s performance as their teams battled into the ninth inning of the second game of the first session. The CeeBees patiently waited as Posten blinked first after she walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the frame. Cavaliers’ head coach Brooke Crane then handed the ball to Camryn Dorsey with no outs in a dire situation.

Dorsey got the first two outs and then the groundout her team needed, but third baseman Dena McMillan responded with an ill-fated decision. Her throw home instead of to first base on a hit by Joleigh Sollars was bobbled by catcher Kaitlyn Gray. Gray’s trouble handling the pitch allowed the CeeBees’ Rylee Burnette to score the game-winning run.

GAME 1: Sherman 8, Wheeling Central 1

Ask and you shall receive Sherman Tide head coach Jim Henderson.

The Tide leader requested from his team a good start to the state tournament. He then watched exactly that as his girls slugged three home runs among their 15 hits and sent the reigning state champions into the loser’s bracket.

Haylee Clendenin’s first-inning two run blast though would have more than sufficed for the winning tally. Teammate Autumn Thompson twirled a gem on the mound. She struck out 11 Wheeling Central Maroon nights in a complete-game, three-hit effort.

Kaitlyn Ferns’ fourth-inning solo blast along with Jarika Baylor’s two singles proved the lone hits for the champs.

But for good measure, the Tide washed over the Knights throughout the contest. Cloey Toney slugged her solo bomb in the bottom of the fourth. Hailea Skeens then jacked her two-run blast for a 7-1 advantage one inning later.