Logan County has been blessed over the years with a strong spring sports tradition as Logan, Man and Chapmanville have won countless sectional, regional and state championships in baseball and softball.
This spring, the three county rivals will be competing for the very first time in the same Class AA sectional as the Wildcats, Hillbillies and Tigers will battle it out in a new six-team section along with Scott, Lincoln County and Mingo Central.
Logan and Lincoln County move down from the Triple-A ranks, while Man High School, after more than a decade as a Single-A school, will be in Double-A.
Sectional coaches and administrators met on Tuesday on how to conduct the post-season section tournaments.
The end result agreed to at the meeting will be something new — a two-week long, double-elimination tournament — which will make for an exciting post-season for area teams and fans.
A two-week long sectional for both baseball and softball.
Get ready, because it’s going to be quite a ride.
In girls’ softball, Chapmanvillle Regional High School’s newly-named Ronnie Ooten Field will play host to the tournament, which is set to begin on May 2.
For baseball, the higher seeded teams will host games.
“Both tournaments will be standard double-elimination tournaments,” Chapmanville baseball coach Eric Ellis said. “The softball tournament will be played at Chapmanville. The baseball tournament start date is May 8. The higher seed will host games each day in baseball. So when the No. 4 and No. 5 seeded teams play the No. 4 seed will host. When you get to the championship round, whoever the winner’s bracket winner is will host the first game. If that team would get beat the other team would host the next game. It will last two weeks for both softball and baseball.”
Ellis said another plan would have been to have two three-team pods instead of a six-team section but that idea was nixed.
“The WVSSAC didn’t want us to do that,” he said.
Just like in basketball, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams will get first-round byes in both the softball and baseball sectionals.
The softball tournament, especially, will be quite competitive.
Host Chapmanville went 33-6 last year and won the Class AA state championship — its sixth overall and first since 2010.
Man was a Class A state tournament team last year with a 26-7 mark as the Lady Billies advanced all the way to the state championship game before falling 7-2 to Wheeling Central. Man has won three state titles in its history.
The Logan softball team was 17-17 last year as a Triple-A school but have four state titles to its credit and will also challenge for the sectional title. Logan last battled with Chapmanville in the same section from 2003-08 in its last go-round in 2A ball.
Lincoln County also has a strong tradition in girls’ softball, having captured the 2011 Class AAA state title.
Scott has also had some success in softball over the years, however, Mingo Central has struggled mightily since the Miners started playing six years ago.
The baseball sectional also appears to be very competitive with the three county teams and Scott.
Chapmanville had a successful year last season with a 23-5 mark but was upset by Scott, 15-14 in 10 innings in a decisive Game 3 of a best-of-three sectional series.
Logan was 12-10 last year and Man was 12-18, however, the Hillbillies advanced to the Class A state semifinals last year but lost 3-0 to Wahama. Man was the 2014 Class A state champion and the 2015 state runner-up.
Logan hasn’t made it to the state tournament since 2009. Longtime Wildcats’ coach Roger Gertz resigned just recently. Man also lost its coach during the off-season as Larry Vance left to coach the baseball team at Ambassador Christian Academy in Williamson.
Ellis said both the baseball and softball sectionals will be exciting.
“In both tournaments everybody will be good,” he said. “It’s going to be a war to get out of there. Winning the sectional tournament will be a heck of an accomplishment.”
In the event of prolonged rainouts causing tournament delays, Ellis said the WVSSAC has allowed for the possibility of having it revert to a single-elimination format.
“We have an amount of good fields in this area so I think that we’ll be able to get the tournament in,” Ellis said.
Also at Chapmanville, with the Chapmanville Middle School softball field nearby, that diamond could also be used if need be.
Ellis said he’s excited about the season.
“Scott beat us last year but they deserved it. They outplayed us last year in the sectional tournament,” he said. “We return three out of our top four pitchers and we have seven kids who played quite a lot so we think that we’ll have a pretty good chance at being a good team. We’ll work them hard. It will just be a matter of getting it done.”
Since Logan rejoins the Cardinal Conference Chapmanville will also be renewing its rivalry with the Wildcats. The two teams haven’t played each other since 2011, the year CRHS went 35-3 and won the Class AA state championship.
The first meeting is set for April 24 at Chapmanville. Game 2 is May 3 at Logan.
Ellis said he expects Gertz to still be with the Logan team in some capacity, maybe as an assistant coach.
“He’ll be around,” Ellis said. “Roger and Kevin both, however that works out, they’ve always had a great program and I expect nothing different. They are going to be really good. Man will be good. Scott has some kids back and Lincoln County was good last year. You’re looking at a really good tournament there. I’m excited about it.”
The sectional champion in both baseball and softball will then advance to play in the regional tournament to play in a best-of-three series.
That’s something new as well.
The local sectional champ would match up against Double-A teams from the other section, including Wayne, Nitro, Poca, Herbert Hoover, Sissonville, Winfield and others.
That will be a tough series as well for the eventual sectional champions.
“That will be something new and that will be neat,” Ellis said of the new regional format. “There’s a lot of good changes this year. I still don’t think that it’s perfect yet but it’s better than what we had.”
There will still be four teams in the state tournament for both baseball and softball. A possible expansion to eight teams was also toyed around with but that idea was rejected.
The softball state tournament will still be double-elimination with the baseball tournament staying single-elimination, Ellis said.
Southern West Virginia has been blessed for the most part with a mild spring.
Temperatures on Monday soared to 70 degrees in some areas, certainly springlike baseball weather.
“It’s been a tease but wait until March until we start playing. It will be 30 degrees,” Ellis joked.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).