SISSONVILLE — A team of destiny?
Whatever it is, the Chapmanville Regional High School softball team seemed destined to bigger and better things this season.
Rolling through the season and winning 16 out of their last 17 games including the Best of the Best tourney title, the Lady Tigers had the complete package — solid pitching and defense and maybe the best hitting Chapmanville ballclub as a whole in head coach Ronnie Ooten’s 36 years at the helm.
Looking back to the past with some of Ooten’s heavy-hitting teams and state championship years, that’s saying a lot.
Chapmanville seemed destined to make it to the state tournament and have a shot at winning the whole thing.
But there was one team standing in the way to that goal.
The Sissonville Indians.
Sissonville beat Chapmanville twice during the regular season with a heavy-hitting team of its own and the Indians seemed like they were not ready to give up its grip as the reigning state champions.
The task was daunting for the Lady Tigers.
Go to Sissonville and dethrone the defending state champions on their home dirt.
Chapmanville did just that on Thursday night as the Lady Tigers knocked off Sissonville 6-3 in the Class AA Region 4 championship game to advance to next Wednesday’s state tournament at Jackson Memorial Park in Vienna where CRHS (29-5) is set to face Region 1 champion Oak Glen (14-12), which moved on with Thursday night’s 7-0 win over Bridgeport.
Game time is set for 10 a.m.
The other Class AA bracket has James Monroe (21-7) taking on Petersburg (29-4).
More on the state tournament later.
To get there Chapmanville had to put away Sissonville and had to come from behind to do it. The Indians had handed the Lady Tigers two of its five losses this season with 4-3 and 3-0 setbacks but ended up closing out with a 26-9 record.
Coach Ooten who has led Chapmanville to five state championships in the last 17 years, said he was happy his team was able to get over the hump. Not only did the Lady Tigers avenge the two defeats this season to the Indians, they also turned the tables on Sissonville, which beat Chapmanville 10-0 in last year’s Region 4 title game on the Lady Tigers’ home diamond.
“Well, they had our number during the regular season. We lost a couple of close games and we left some people on base,” Ooten said. “We left a lot on base tonight too. I was upset tonight that we left a lot of base runners on. I’d say we left 10 or 11 on. If we would have got a few more hits we could have scored a few more runs but I’m happy with the win and I’ll take it. If I was 1-0 or whatever I would have been happy.”
Chapmanville had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning as slap-hitting leadoff hitter Kenzie McCann laced a single, was bunted over to second by Hollie Carter and scored on catcher Savannah Wiley’s smashing double to center.
Sissonville then grabbed the early momentum back in the bottom of the third with a two-run double by Alexee Haynes to go up 2-1.
The game stayed that way until the top of the fifth when Chapmanville senior catcher Wiley crushed a two-run homer off Sissonville pitcher Kendal Parkins over the centerfield fence to make it 3-2 Chapmanville.
It proved to be the game-winning hit and the back-breaker for the Indians.
“When I hit the home run we were down a little bit and that put us ahead,” said Wiley, a West Virginia Wesleyan signee who is one of four Lady Tigers hitting better than .400 this season. “When I hit it it brought us back with all of the momentum.”
Ooten said he was glad Wiley came through with the big hit.
“I’ve had to get on her she don’t hold her hands on the bat like she should. But if she gets mad at me over it that’s good, just as long as she hits those home runs,” he quipped.
Chapmanville then added three big insurance runs in the sixth to take a 6-2 lead.
Grace Belcher led off with an infield single, McCann was safe on an error and both scored on a crazy play on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Hollie Carter. Belcher scored on the initial contact as Sissonville tried to cut her down at the plate. The ball went out of the glove of Sissonville catcher Brooke Young to the backstop, allowing McCann to slide in home.
Carter then later scored on a passed ball.
The Lady Tigers still had a chance to score more runs but Jada Freeman stepped up with the bases loaded and lined a sharp ball to short. The Sissonville shortstop then fired to third to double off a runner to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Chapmanville loaded up the bases again but to Coach Ooten’s dismay, two runners were cut down at the plate on force plays and Sissonville relief pitcher Haynes was able to get Carter to ground out to second to end the threat.
The Indians cut it to 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh with a last-gasp home run to left center by DP Jenna Thomas.
However, McCann struck out Olivia Montgomery and got Reagan Johnson to ground out to second base to Chapmanville’s Alli Harless to end the game.
Chapmanville players stormed the field in celebration.
McCann, who pitched the complete game win by allowing three runs on four hits with four strikeouts, no walks and two hit batters, said it was a rewarding victory.
“We came into this game knowing that Sissonville had beaten us so many times that we had to win,” McCann said. “We have practiced to face Kendal (Parkins) all year long. She’s a great pitcher so we knew what was coming. We knew that it was hard to beat the same team three times in the same season and we knew that coming into this game. We were ready.”
Carter said the team knew beating Sissonville on their home field would be tough.
“We knew that it was going to be a hard game coming in,” she said. “We were very excited about it. We were pumped, we were ready and we had our heads on straight. We knew what we had to do.”
Harless, who had a hit, dedicated the win to her grandmother.
“My mamaw Virginia Harless had just passed away so I was playing my heart out for her,” she said.
Wiley led Chapmanville at the plate as she was 2-for-3 with three RBI, including the double and home run. Belcher was 2-for-4. McCann and Karah Little also had hits for the Lady Tigers.
Haynes, who hit better than .600 this season, was 2-for-2 with one RBI to lead the Indians.
Parkins went four innings and was saddled with the loss. She was pulled in the fifth following Wiley’s blast.
For Chapmanville, it is the team’s first trip to the state tournament in five years. CRHS last won a state title in 2010 as the Lady Tigers captured back-to-back crowns.
No current member of the team has played in the state tournament.
This was the first season in Orange and Black for Chapmanville’s five transfers from Scott High School — Little, Harless, Belcher, starting right fielder Mallory Kennedy and backup first baseman Kerston Kennedy. All have been major contributors to the program. All five sat out last season in the transition.
“It was crazy tonight but it was so fun,” Mallory Kennedy said. “It was very nerve-racking but we were very confident. It was so exciting.”
Chapmanville DP Jada Freeman said the team was confident it could beat Sissonville.
“It was amazing. I knew that we could do it when we came up here and I’m glad that we finished the way that we did,” Freeman said.
Chapmanville is now 7-4 in regional championship games since 1999.
The Lady Tigers turn their attention now to the state tournament.
The odds seem to be in Chapmanville’s favor and CRHS could be considered as the odds on favorite to win it.
Region 4 champions have claimed six out of the last seven state championships. Chapmanville won state titles in 2009 and 2010. Wayne took back-to-back crowns in 2012 and 2013. Herbert Hoover took the 2014 state title and Sissonville won last year.
— Look for more on the Lady Tigers and their state tournament run in Tuesday’s sports.
regional title games since 2000:
2000: Man 1, Chapmanville 0 (at Chapmanville)
2003: Winfield 2, Chapmanville 1 (at Madison)
2004: Chapmanville 4, Point Pleasant 1 (at Wayne)
2005: Herbert Hoover 2, Chapmanville 0 (at Madison)
2007: Chapmanville 3, Winfield 1 (at Chapmanville)
2009: Chapmanville 6, Herbert Hoover 0 (at Chapmanville)
2010: Chapmanville 4, Herbert Hoover 0 (at Herbert Hoover)
2011: Chapmanville 4, Poca 0 (at Chapmanville)
2015: Sissonville 10, Chapmanville 0 (at Chapmanville)
2016: Chapmanville 6, Sissonville 3 (at Sissonville)
2016 Chapmanville Regional High School
Softball Schedule (29-5, 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), W 6-3
May 25: vs. Oak Glen (Class AA state tourney), 10 a.m.
May 25: vs. James Monroe/Petersburg (Class AA state tourney), TBA
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).