It’s been four years since the Logan High School softball team last made it to Vienna and the Class AAA state tournament.
The Lady Cats made a four-year run from 2009-12 but have been shut out ever since.
Logan hopes to change that this spring.
The Lady Cats are coming off successful back-to-back seasons but were unable to advance to the state tournament.
Last year, Logan was 19-12 but lost 7-2 to Hurricane in the Class AAA Region 4 championship game. The Lady Cats had advanced with a 6-2 regional semifinal win over Point Pleasant and three wins in the 3A sectionals over Nitro (12-0) and St. Albans (12-2 and 16-0).
Two years ago, Logan ended the 2014 season ranked No. 2 in the state, but were blanked 2-0 at home by Point Pleasant in the regional semifinals.
The Lady Cats made a huge turnaround, going from an injury-riddled 12-18 season in 2013 when Logan ran out of pitchers, to the 27-5 team in 2014.
Logan is hoping to keep the winning trend going this season.
LHS, however, has a young team this season with some inexperience at certain positions and lost 16-3 at home to South Charleston on Monday night at home in the season opener. Logan is at Nitro on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and host county rival Chapmanville on Thursday evening.
Logan veteran coach Randy Robinette, who led LHS to three out of its four state championships in 1986, 2001 and 2002, said his team will need some time to put all of the pieces together.
Robinette’s Lady Cats, however, will have some huge shoes to fill as all-state players Summer Collins and Aarron Ward have been lost to graduation. Ward was Logan’s ace pitcher last year and Collins, the Lady Cats’ starting center fielder, hit .600 last spring and is now playing Division I ball at Marshall University.
The good news for Logan is that top pitcher Hana Sedlock and a few other starters are back. The Lady Cats hope to make one last run at the Class AAA state tournament. Next year, Logan heads back down to Double-A for the first time since 2008.
“We need our veteran players to step up and play a whole lot better,” said Robinette, Logan’s veteran coach who has led the Lady Cats to three state championships. “We have to be better because we have a blend of new players and returning players and everyone needs to step up in order for us to be successful. We’re working hard, though, and we will be better as we go along. It will take us a couple of weeks.”
Sedlock, a senior, is back as Logan’s pitching ace.
“She’s our lone returning pitcher with varsity experience. She’ll play second base or shortstop when she’s not pitching,” Robinette said.
Steph Curry, Logan’s JV pitcher from last year and a junior, appears to be the No. 2 hurler.
Junior Kelsey Ward, a fine hitter and also a third baseman and shortstop, will also see mound time, along with freshman Jaycee Abbott, the lone frosh on the team.
“She’s our only freshman. We’ve only got 19 players on the entire team,” Robinette said.
Chelsea Napier, a sophomore, slides into her new role as Logan’s catcher.
“She played outfield last year but she’ll be our catcher this year,” Robinette said. “She’ll be backed up by Kyra Wright, a sophomore.”
Over at first base, senior and basketball player Monica Mitchell seems to have the inside nod.
“This is the first time Monica has played softball at the high school level,” Robinette said. “She hasn’t played since middle school but she continues to get better. She’s 6-foot-2 and that’s a great asset for a first baseman. She’s a player who can move and is very athletic. She will definitely help us. She just needs to knock off the rust some.”
Junior Larra Elkins and Wright are also pressing for playing time at first base.
Hannah Vance, a junior and a newcomer, is being looked at at second base.
“She hasn’t played ball in a few years,” Robinette said. “Sophomore Jaden Oney, Steph Curry and Sedlock can also play there.”
At shortstop, Ward is the likely starter and Taylor Napier, a senior, looks to have the starting job at third base.
“Taylor brings experience for us at third base,” Robinette said. “Both Ward and Napier can flip-flop positions at third and short.”
In left field Brooklyn Queen, a senior, is a returning player who saw a lot of action last season. Sophomores Amber Stone and Haleigh Sheppard and Abbott are vying for playing time in left. Sophomore Stephanie McCloud and Sedlock are other options.
In center field, Logan has a huge void to fill with the loss of Collins. Junior speedster Mahoghani Patton looks to be her replacement.
“She pinch ran a lot for us last year and started for us in the regional final last year in the outfield when we had to reshuffle our lineup,” Robinette said of Patton. “She has good speed and catch the ball real well. Mahoghani will do a fine job or us. I’m not too worried about my outfield.”
Senior Sarah Browning may also see time in center or right field. Curry could be Logan’s starter in right. Sheppard, Oney and senior Alexis Ransom are pressing for playing time there.
Logan plays another tough schedule with home-and-homes against county rivals Chapmanville and Man and 3A teams Point Pleasant, Lincoln County and Winfield.
Logan plays Lincoln County a third time on April 15 in the Best of the Best Tournament at Buffalo. LHS also takes on 3A Parkersburg South and Wheeling Park in the tourney.
The Lady Cats are slated to play again in Chapmaville’s Lady Tigers Invitational on April 1-2 with games against Riverside and Poca.
Logan does not play defending Class AAA state champion Hurricane this season.
LHS once againt faces off with Nitro and St. Albans in the double-eliminaton sectional tourney.
Next year’s sectional will be much tougher even though Logan drops to Class AA.
Robinette said the softball sectionals have not yet been figured out but a Chapmanville/Logan/Scott sectional, which was played back in the 2000s for five years, could be in the works. Man, which is moving up to Double-A next season, could get a sectional with Mingo Central and Lincoln County although that has yet to be determined.
“It won’t be any easier for us next year as a Double-A school,” Robinette said. “Lincoln County and Winfield are moving down to Double-A as well and Wayne and Chapmanville are always loaded. Softball-wise it won’t help us to be in Double-A. Point Pleasant is also going down to Double-A and Man will be moving up. That’s murderer’s row right there. The competition will be even more fierce in Double-A, especially in the sectional tournament.”
In Monday’s loss to South Charleston, Logan committed 12 errors. Taylor Napier had a double and two RBI. Curry had a single and an RBI. Queen also had two hits and Patton had a single.
“We’ll get better as the season goes but South Charleston could quite possibly be the best team in the state,” Robinette said. “We have some difficult games ahead. It’s going to be a tough schedule.”
2016 Logan High School
March 21: South Charleston, 5:30 p.m.
March 23: at Nitro, 5:30 p.m.
March 24: Chapmanville, 5:30 p.m.
March 25: Lincoln County, 5:30 p.m.
March 26: at Wyoming East, 1 p.m.
March 30: Sherman, 1 p.m.
April 1: vs. Riverside (at Chapmanville tourney), 4 p.m.
April 2: vs. Poca (at Chapmanville tourney), 2 p.m.
April 4: St. Albans, 5:30 p.m.
April 5: at Westside, 5:30 p.m.
April 6: Scott, 4 p.m.
April 7: Man, 5:30 p.m.
April 8: Point Pleasant, 5:30 p.m.
April 9: at Winfield, 1 p.m.
April 11: at St. Albans, 5:30 p.m.
April 12: NItro, 5:30 p.m.
April 13: at South Charleston, 5:30 p.m.
April 14: Poca, 6 p.m.
April 15: vs. Lincoln County (Best of the Best at Buffalo), 4 p.m.
April 15: vs. Parkersburg South (Best of the Best at Buffalo), 6 p.m.
April 16: vs. Wheeling Park (Best of the Best at Buffalo), 12 p.m.
April 18: at Lincoln County, 5:30 p.m.
April 20: at Poca, 5:30 p.m.
April 22: at Point Pleasant, 5:30 p.m.
April 23: Winfield, 1 p.m.
April 25: Westside, 5:30 p.m.
April 26: at Chapmanville, 5:30 p.m.
April 27: Wyoming East, 5:30 p.m.
April 28: at Man, 5:30 p.m.
April 29: at Sherman, 5:30 p.m.
April 30: Pikeview (DH), 1 p.m.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).