CHAPMANVILLE, W.Va. — Going to Vienna and winning a state softball championship is never easy.
For the returning Chapmanville Regional High School players from last year they know this all too well.
A year ago the Lady Tigers did it the hard way, falling into the loser’s bracket and rallying to win three games on a hot day in the final day of the tournament, eventually sweeping James Monroe to take the crown.
Chapmanville heads back to Vienna next week with aspirations of repeating as Class AA state champs.
CRHS will go into the state tourney as the favorites.
The Lady Tigers have six state titles under their belts and will be looking for their first back-to-back championships since 2009-10.
Chapmanville (23-3) is scheduled to open play in the Class AA state tournament next Wednesday, May 24 around 11 a.m. against Region 2 champ and fellow Cardinal Conference team Herbert Hoover (24-5) at Vienna’s Jackson Memorial Park.
Region 1 champion Oak Glen (23-8-1) opens with Region 3 champion Wyoming East (20-4) in Game 1 of the state tourney on Wednesday at 9:45 a.m.
The two-day state tournament is set to conclude on Thursday, May 25 with a loser’s bracket game and then the state championship matchup later in the afternoon.
Herbert Hoover advanced with a 3-0 victory over Bridgeport.
The Lady Tigers beat Point Pleasant 1-0 and 3-0 to win their regional title.
The Lady Tigers and Huskies are old conference rivals. The two teams met twice this season with CRHS taking 5-1 and 1-0 wins. Chapmanville also beat Hoover twice last season.
Oak Glen moved on to state with a 3-0 victory over Petersburg. Chapmanville played Oak Glen last year in the state tournament opener and won 5-1. CRHS then lost to James Monroe (1-0) and came back to beat Petersburg (4-0) and James Monroe twice (12-4 and 10-0) to win the state title.
Wyoming East won 2-1 over Shady Spring to advance to state.
With Chapmanville, Herbert Hoover and Wyoming East three out of the four 2A state tourney teams are from the southern half of the state of West Virginia.
CRHS junior pitching ace Kenzie McCann said last year’s state tournament experience should help the Lady Tigers this time around.
At the time of last year’s state tournament, Chapmanville hadn’t made it to the state tourney since 2011 so last season was the first time any of the Lady Tigers had played in Vienna.
“I think getting that experience under our belts last year was good,” McCann said. “I think this year will be a little bit tougher with the competition up there. That’s what we are predicting.”
For Chapmanville senior shortstop Hollie Carter she said she hopes to top off her career with another state title.
“It feels great. It’s a blessing really,” said Carter, who moved from first base over to shortstop this year. “This sectional and regional was really different but we got a lot of good competition before we are headed to state. This is perfect and this is a great way to top it off as a senior.”
Center fielder Kara Browning said the Lady Tigers come into the state tourney with a lot of swagger.
“It was a great team effort. We have a lot of confidence going into next weeks state tournament,” she said.
Chapmanville junior catcher Grace Belcher said the state tourney field is tougher this year.
“It’s awesome to get to go back. I just want to go back and win it again,” said Belcher, who was moved from third base to catcher this season. “It’s going to be tough and it’s going to be harder. We play Hoover in the first game. Hopefully we can hit the ball and beat them.”
For senior third baseman Carley Cook it will be her state tournament baptism. She was not on the roster at season’s end last year.
“I didn’t get to go last year because I didn’t play but I’m excited to be going this year,” Cook said.
Senior first baseman Kerston Kennedy, one half of Chapmanville’s Kennedy twins, said it’s been the Lady Tigers’ goal all year.
“This has been our main goal all year,” Kennedy said. “I’m very happy to go back. We’re excited.”
Left fielder Karah Little said winning a second straight state title will be no easy task.
“It’s so great and I’m so glad that we are going to be able to get a chance to go back especially with the seniors that we have now,” Little said. “I’ve grown up with the (Kennedy) twins and Hollie (Carter). It’s probably going to be tougher this year as compared to last year, especially with Hoover being up there and Wyoming East. So we have to work on our hitting a lot more now.”
Jada Freeman, Chapmanville’s DP, said it’s exciting to get to play again in the state tourney.
“I think it’s great and I think that we can win it,” Freeman said. “I hope that we can win.”
Senior right fielder Mallory Kennedy, the other half of the Kennedy twin sister tandem, said winning another state title would be the perfect way to cap her playing career.
“It feels really good. As a senior I want to end it on top,” she said. “That would just be the icing on the cake. We’ll be graduating the next day on Friday.”
Freshman Charlee Mullins stepped in for injured senior starter Lexi Hines at second base. She also pitched some to give McCann some relief.
It will be her first taste of the state tournament.
“It’s really exciting,” Mullins said. “I think that we can go out there and win it. I think that it will be tough but once we get into the groove and we go out there and play our hearts out I think that we’ve got a great chance to win it.”
Lady Tigers in the state
softball tourney since 1999 (20-4):
Chapmanville 10, James Monroe 0 (state finals Game 2)
Chapmanville 12, James Monroe 4 (state finals Game 1)
Chapmanville 4, Petersburg 0
James Monroe 1, Chapmanville 0
Chapmanville 5, Oak Glen 1
Liberty Raleigh 5, Chapmanville 4
Ritchie County 4, Chapmanville 1
Chapmanville 1, Braxton County 0
Chapmanville 3, Ritchie County 1 (state finals Game 2)
Ritchie County 4, Chapmanville 0 (state finals Game 1)
Chapmanville 12, Shady Spring 2
Chapmanville 3, Ritchie County 2
Chapmanville 2, Independence 0 (state finals)
Chapmanville 1, Point Pleasant 0
Chapmanville 5, Independence 0
Chapmanville 8, Ritchie County 5 (state finals)
Chapmanville 7, Shady Spring 1
Chapmanville 8, Ritchie County 1
Chapmanville 2, Shady Spring 1 (state finals)
Chapmanville 1, Shady Spring 0
Chapmanville 2, Ritchie County 0
Chapmanville 2, Independence 0 (state finals)
Chapmanville 1, Oak Glen 0
Chapmanville 10, Ritchie County 0
Class AA Region Scores
Game 1 (Monday): Oak Glen 5, Petersburg 0
Game 2 (Tuesday): Oak Glen 3, Petersburg 1
OAK GLEN WINS CLASS AA REGION 1
Game 1 (Monday): Herbert Hoover 12, Bridgeport 0
Game 2 (Tuesday): Herbert Hoover 12, Bridgeport 4
HERBERT HOOVER WINS CLASS AA REGION 2
Game 1 (Monday): Wyoming East 8, Shady Spring 0
Game 2 (Tuesday): Wyoming East 2, Shady Spring 1
WYOMING EAST WINS CLASS AA REGION 3
Game 1 (Monday): Chapmanville 1, Point Pleasant 0
Game 2 (Tuesday): Chapmanville 3, Point Pleasant 0
CHAPMANVILLE WINS CLASS AA REGION 4
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner.