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Ritchie softball opens state tournament against Midland Trail

Ritchie, Wahama rematch not coming in quarterfinals

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Ritchie County head coach Dave Mossor celebrates with his team following the Rebels’ sectional championship win over St. Marys. Mossor and company open state tournament play against Midland Trail at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at South Charleston’s Little Creek Park.

PARKERSBURG — The top two programs in the Little Kanawha Conference — league champion Wahama and runner-up Ritchie County — will represent the Mid-Ohio Valley in the Class A state tournament when action gets underway on Tuesday at Craft Field inside South Charleston’s Little Creek Park.

The 21-5 Rebels of head coach Dave Mossor play in the opening game at 9:30 a.m. versus Midland Trail (20-4).

White Falcon head coach Chris Noble’s squad will carry a 24-0 mark into their contest versus Petersburg (21-5), which will take place 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.

At 4:30 p.m., the losers will play in the first elimination game and 30 minutes after that the two winners will go at it to take control of the double-elimination tournament.

“I don’t know anything about them. I guess they are all right,” Mossor said of Midland Trail.

The Rebels are led in the circle by senior righty Chloe Elliott, who is 20-3 with a 0.78 earned run average. She’s allowed 14 walks and 70 hits in 144 innings with 234 strikeouts. She also leads the team with a .537 average and has three doubles, a triple, two homers and 25 runs-batted-in.

“We come off the field, we won that game and the girls just walked off and did a little celebration and I’m like heck I’m the only one jumping around here. It was funny,” Mossor said of winning the regional at Madonna.

As for the early start time, “I’ve probably been here more than anybody. Those early ball games are tough on everybody. I’ve got a real good defense. The infield seems to be pretty solid.”

Shortstop Alyvia Pittman, who leads the team with 15 stolen bases, is batting .464 with seven doubles, four triples and 15 RBIs. Second baseman Marissa Jeffrey is hitting .486 with 11 RBIs. Catcher Jayci Gray has six doubles, the Rebels’ only other home run, eight RBIs and is hitting .366.

Olivia Dodd continues to produce at first base as she leads the squad with a dozen two-baggers and 27 RBIs. She’s also hitting .438. Maci Ireland, who has seen increased playing time the second half of the season, is hitting .500 with two doubles and seven RBIs. Karleigh Sonju, Lillie Law and Chaslyn Jones have combined for 25 stolen bases.

“Everybody contributed against Madonna,” added Mossor, who is leading the Rebels to the state tournament for the 17th time.

Coach Noble’s team, which won the sectional title during his first year in Mason back in 2019 before falling in the regional to eventual single-A champ Sherman, admitted “it will pretty much be just go get them like we have all year” when asked if there was anything special he was going to tell his team.

The only thing the White Falcons have done all season is taste victory, albeit it took a seven-run top of the 10th to win 11-4 at Man and clinch a state berth.

“The Doddridge coach told me they are a pretty good team,” Noble said of Petersburg. “I don’t know hardly anything about them.”

If anyone is going to eliminate the White Falcons, they’ll have to figure out sophomore Mikie Lieving, who along with being 24-0 has a 0.77 ERA to go along with 218 strikeouts in 155 innings. She also leads the team with a .607 batting average and has thrown every pitch for the White Falcons this spring.

Shortstop Lauren Noble (.475 AVG) has made just one error this season. Catcher Amber Wolfe is hitting .481 and second baseman Emma Gibbs is batting .384. Entering the regional, Wahama had launched 13 home runs with Lieving (four) and Wolfe (three) leading the way.

“We’re riding the momentum right now for sure,” coach Noble said of eliminating Man and making the first state tournament appearance in school history. “That was a big confidence booster, especially that last inning. Man was a good team and their pitcher is the best we’ve seen this year.”

Having yet to taste defeat this season, the White Falcons aren’t carrying any extra burden going into the state tournament, which will have a 9:30 a.m. elimination game on Wednesday with the championship game set for 2 p.m.

“I don’t think the undefeated part has any added pressure and the girls they play for themselves and each other, and that’s what makes them good,” added the coach. “There is no split in any part of the team.

“They are together more than any team I’ve ever been around. That’s a big part of it. They don’t talk about undefeated, just the state tournament. It doesn’t matter how we do it just as along as we do it.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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