CHAPMANVILLE — For weeks it seemed apparent that all roads to Vienna and the state high school softball tournament would have to go through Sissonville.
That was the expected path for the Chapmanville Regional High School softball team.
That became reality on Thursday night as Chapmanville (28-5) advanced by routing Wayne 9-1 in five innings at Chapmanville Regional’s Ronnie Ooten Field in one of the two Class AA Region 4 semifinals.
Sissonville (26-7), the defending Class AA state champions, finished out the regional bracket with a 16-4 victory at home over Herbert Hoover in Thursday’s other semifinal.
That sets up the showdown.
Chapmanville and Sissonville are now scheduled to meet next Thursday, May 19 in the Region 4 championship game at Sissonville for the right to play in the upcoming state tournament at Vienna’s Jackson Park, May 25-26.
Looking ahead, the marquee matchup appears to be an even one.
Sissonville took both meetings with the Lady Tigers during the regular season but both were knife edge games as the Indians won 3-0 at home and took a 4-3 decision at Chapmanville.
Chapmanville will be looking to dethrone the state champs and head back to the state tournament for the first time in five years. Sissonville will be looking to knock off a hot Lady Tigers’ team and win back-to-back state crowns.
“This puts us one win away from the Big Dance and we’re going to have to dance with Sissonville,” Veteran Chapmanville coach Ronnie Ooten said. “We’re proud of our kids. They have started to hit the ball. But we’re just not ready to finish ballgames. That bothers me. When you are up nine runs you have to bury people. You can’t let them peck around and let them get hits. You can’t do that and that makes me go crazy.”
Ooten was referring about Thursday’s game with Wayne in which Chapmanville led 9-0 after a seven-run fourth inning.
The Lady Tigers hoped to close out the game in the top of the fifth inning with a shutout and envoke the mercy rule.
Wayne (10-14), however, wouldn’t go down without a fight as Morgan Maynard singled and Reagan Roach laced a smashing RBI double which rolled to the right centerfield fence for an RBI to make it 9-1.
Chapmanville sophomore pitcher Kenzie McCann then beared down, striking out Hannah Mills and Brayley Queen to end the game via mercy rule. McCann fanned 13 and had a three-hitter. She struck out the side in the first, second and third innings.
“She’s a super pitcher,” Ooten said. “What more can you ask for? I bet every team in the state would like to have her.”
Rileigh Parsons had a leadoff double in the first inning for Wayne’s other hit.
Third baseman Grace Belcher led the Lady Tigers as she was 2-for-3 with three RBI. She slammed a solo homer in the fourth and added a two-run double later in the same inning as Chapmanville batted around.
First baseman Hollie Carter was 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and one RBI. Senior shortstop Shian Meeks was 2-for-3 with a single, a double and one RBI.
DP Jada Freeman also came up big with a three-run bases loaded double in the fourth which put the Lady Tigers up 7-0.
“Freeman came up with the big double. She had been hitting horrible,” Ooten said. “She got a great hit in that situation. All of them hit pretty good. I’m proud of them but sometimes they drive you crazy. That’s just kids.”
Senior catcher Savannah Wiley added a single for Chapmanville. Karah Little, Alli Harless and Kara Browning had one single each.
CRHS went up 2-0 in the second by plating two runs.
Belcher scored the first run as she was safe on a fielder’s choice play and later slid in at home after a wild pitch. Carter’s RBI single to left to the opposite field scored the second run.
“We had a great hit there from Hollie who knocked in a run,” Ooten said. “When we have runners in scoring position you have to take advantage of that.”
Whitney Sansom was the starting and losing pitcher for Wayne, which lost all three meetings to Chapmanville this season, including 16-7 and 6-0 setbacks.
The Lady Tigers have had a fantastic season but there’s one more hurdle left to make their return to the state tournament.
Chapmanville has been in this situation countless times over the years.
The Lady Tigers last won a regional championship in 2011, in a 4-0 win at home over the Poca Dots, to make it to state but went 1-2 in the double-elimination state tournament to bow out.
In Chapmanville’s last appearance in the state tourney, the Lady Tigers beat Braxton County 1-0 but then lost to Ritchie County (4-1) and Liberty Raleigh (5-4) to close out the season with a 23-8 mark.
Chapmanville won regional and state championships five other times in 1999, 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
The Lady Tigers have also been upset in regional championship games over the last couple of decades.
Back in 2000, after taking the ‘99 state title, Chapmanville was upset 1-0 on its home field by county rival Man in the Class AA regional final.
In 2003, Chapmanville advanced to the Class AA regional title game but lost 2-1 to Winfield in a game played at Madison.
The Lady Tigers were also upset by Herbert Hoover, 2-0, in the 2005 Class AA regional final at Madison despite having a 27-3 record, being the defending state champions and going into the game as the No. 1-ranked team in the state.
2016 Chapmanville Regional High School
Softball Schedule (28-5, 12-2):
March 18: Mingo Central, W 10-0
March 21: Tolsia, W 26-0
March 22: Poca, W 5-1
March 23: Herbert Hoover, W 9-8
March 24: at Logan, W 13-5
March 26: Scott, W 8-0
March 28: at Sissonville, L 0-3
March 29: Sherman, W 10-0
March 31: Lincoln County (Lady Tigers Invitational), W 6-1
April 1: Hurricane (Lady Tigers Invitational), L 4-8
April 2: Point Pleasant (Lady Tigers Invitational), L 4-6 (10 innings)
April 4: at Lincoln County, W 8-4
April 5: at Wayne, W 16-7
April 6: at Man, W 9-0
April 11: at Scott, W 8-0
April 12: at Poca, W 8-3
April 13: Sissonville, L 3-4
April 14: vs. Weirton Madonna (at Best of the Best Buffalo), W 7-4
April 14: vs. Ritchie County (at Best of the Best Buffalo), W 11-1
April 16: vs. Ritchie County (at Best of the Best Buffalo), W 8-0
April 16: vs. Wirt County (at Best of the Best Buffalo), W 13-1
April 16: vs. Weirton Madonna (at Best of the Best Buffalo), W 9-1
April 18: Wayne, W 6-0
April 19: Man, W 2-0
April 20: at Mingo Central, W 16-0
April 21: at Herbert Hoover, W 8-0
April 25: at Riverside, W 12-2
April 26: Logan, W 8-0
April 28: at Tolsia, W 18-0
May 3: vs. Scott (Class AA sectionals at Chapmanville), W 15-0
May 4: vs. Scott (Class AA sectionals at Chapmanville), W 19-0
May 10: South Charleston, L 0-8
May 12: vs. Wayne (Class AA regional semifinals at Chapmanville), W 9-1
May 19: at Sissonville (Class AA regional final), 6 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).