MAN, W.Va. — The road to Vienna will be much tougher for the Man High School softball team this spring.
The Lady Billies, 26-7 last year and 2-2 in the Class A state tournament, including a 7-2 loss to Wheeling Central in the state championship game, will rejoin the Double-A ranks this spring for the first time in more than 10 years.
Man will have a beefed up schedule and will take part in a new six-team, ultra difficult Class AA sectional, which includes defending state champion Chapmanville Regional, along with former 3A schools Logan and Lincoln County. Scott and Mingo Central are the other two teams.
The Lady Billies are slated to play all sectional teams this season in home-and-home series.
Man will also take on Class AA power Wayne in Chapmanville’s Lady Tigers Invitational on March 30. Man also has a late season home game against 3A Riverside.
The season is set to begin on March 20 at county rival Logan. Man split with Logan last season, losing 8-0 on the road and winning 2-1 at home. Man lost 9-0 and 2-0 to CRHS last year.
Man has a loaded roster back this spring, including its one-two dymanic punch of pitchers Emilee Walker and Haylee Daniels.
Walker, a junior, was a Class A First-Team All-State pick last year. She was 12-5 within the circle last season with a 2.31 ERA. She had a 97-inning worksheet with 114 strikeouts and 45 walks.
Daniels, a senior, was a Second-Team All-State selection last year and had an 11-2 record and 1.05 ERA. She fired 60 innings, striking out 68 and walking only 13, while allowing just 39 base hits and only nine earned runs.
Man also returns senior catcher Sydney Keffer, a Second-Team All-State pick from a year ago.
The Lady Billies lost First-Team All-State first baseman/pitcher Cydnee Lambert to graduation. Also lost to graduation are Savannah McCormack and Emilee Toler.
Man had a successful run as a Single-A school.
Man won back-to-back Class A state championships in 2008 and 2009, were the 2010 state runner-up and have been back to Vienna in three out of the last four seasons.
The Lady Billies, coached by Randy Epperly, now in his 20th season, made some noise in last year’s state tournament.
Man beat Moorefield, 6-4, in a thrilling state tournament opener.
The Lady Billies were twice down to their final strike but were able to rally.
Down 4-2, with the bases loaded and facing a 1-2 count with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, Man freshman shortstop Chelsie Vance ripped a bases-clearing, three-run double to center field, putting the Lady Billies on top 5-4 over Moorefield.
Keffer then followed with an RBI single to score Vance, giving the Lady Billies a 6-4 lead.
Man then got Moorefield out in the last half of the frame to advance.
The Lady Billies then led Wheeling Central 2-0 in Game 2 but the Maroon Knights were able to rally to get the win and go on to cap off a 33-0 undefeated season with the state championship. Wheeling Central, down 2-1, plated two runs in the last half of the seventh.
Man then won 8-0 over Williamstown in Game 3 before falling to Wheeling Central in the finals.
— Look for previews of Logan County’s spring sports teams in the next two weeks in the Logan Banner sports section.
2017 Man High School
March 20: at Logan, 5:30 p.m.
March 23: at Mingo Central, 5:30 p.m.
March 24: Westside, 6 p.m.
March 25: at Pikeview, 2 p.m.
March 28: at River View, 5:30 p.m.
March 30: vs. Tolsia (at Chapmanville Lady Tigers Invitational), 5:30 p.m.
March 30: vs. Wayne (at Chapmanville Lady Tigers Invitational), 7:30 p.m.
March 31: vs. Ritchie County (at Chapmanville Lady Tigers Invitational), 9:30 p.m.
April 1: vs. Fayetteville (at Chapmanville Lady Tigers Invitational), 2 p.m.
April 3: Scott, 5:30 p.m.
April 4: at Chapmanville, 6 p.m.
April 5: at Lincoln County, 5:30 p.m.
April 8: Fayetteville, 1 p.m.
April 10: Logan, 6 p.m.
April 11: at Westside, 5:30 p.m.
April 12: at Wyoming East, 5:30 p.m.
April 17: Chapmanville, 6 p.m.
April 18: Mingo Central, 5:30 p.m.
April 19: at Scott, 6 p.m.
April 24: Lincoln County, 6 p.m.
April 25: Sherman (DH), 5:30 p.m.
April 27: Riverside, 6 p.m.
April 29: Wyoming East, 1 p.m.
May 2-16: Class AA sectionals at Chapmanville, TBA
2016 Man High School
Softball Schedule (26-7):
March 22: at Westside, W 9-0
March 23: Mount View, W 18-0
March 25: at Van, W 14-0
March 29: River View, W 10-0
March 30: Pikeview (DH), W 13-0, W 14-6
March 31: at Scott, W 1-0
March 31: vs. Poca (at Chapmanville tourney), L 2-10
April 1: vs. Westside (at Chapmanville tourney), W 11-0
April 2: vs. Nicholas County (at Chapmanville tourney), W 10-1
April 2: vs. Mingo Central (at Chapmanville tourney), W 10-0
April 6: Chapmanville, L 0-9
April 7: at Logan, L 0-8
April 11: at Mingo Central, W 11-0
April 12: Sherman, W 9-5
April 13: at River View, W 19-0
April 14: at Tug Valley, W 12-0
April 18: at Buffalo, W 11-1
April 19: at Chapmanville, L 0-2
April 20: at Wyoming East, W 1-0
April 21: Westside, W 5-1
April 25: Van, W 10-0
April 26: at Sherman, W 8-0
April 28: Logan, W 2-1
April 29: Buffalo, W 3-2
April 30: Wyoming East, L 1-3
May 3: Tug Valley (Class A sectional tourney), W 7-0 (forfeit)
May 12: at Sherman (Class A regional semifinals), W 10-1
May 19: at Fayetteville (Class A regional final), W 2-1
May 25: vs. Moorefield (Class A state tourney), W 6-4
May 25: vs. Wheeling Central (Class A state tourney), L 2-3
May 26: vs. Williamstown (Class A state tourney), W 8-0
May 26: vs. Wheeling Central (Class A state finals), L 2-7
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner.