MAN — The Lady Billies are hoping to go out with a bang this week in the Class A state softball tournament.
This will be Man High School’s last year competing as a Class A school.
Man, which won Single-A state titles in 2008 and 2009 and came within a whisker of winning a third straight state crown in 2010, will be heading back up to Double-A ball next year.
Man head coach Randy Epperly, now in his 19th season at the helm, hopes to bring hope his third state title this week at Vienna’s Jackson Memorial Park. It’s his seventh appearance in the state tourney.
Man (24-5), which defeated Fayetteville 2-1 last Thursday night in the Class A Region 3 championship game, is matched up with Region 2 champ Moorefield (17-14) in Wednesday’s state tourney opener around noon.
In the Single-A state tourney field, Wheeling Central (30-0) and Williamstown (15-14) are set to meet at 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday in the opener with Man-Moorefield to follow.
The two winners are then slated to play around 6:30 p.m. The two losers play at 4:45 p.m. in an elimination game.
A loser’s bracket game would then be played at 9:45 a.m. on Thursday with the Class A state title game to be played at 2:15 p.m.
For the Man players, they are all excited, to say the least.
“It’s a really good feeling and I hope we can win it all in our last year in Class A,” Man catcher Sydney Keffer said. “Everybody has to do their job and stay focused.”
Man’s Emilee Toler is making her third state tourney appearance.
“It feels good,” she said. “It’s my third trip to states. I went when I was a freshman too. We have to play together as a team and hit the ball and play good solid defense to win it all.”
Maddy Paynter is also playing at state for the third time.
“It’s the best feeling ever. I have been blessed to go both my freshman and sophomore years,” she said. “We have to play to our ability and play good team ball.”
Grace Cline said Man must leave it all out there on the field.
“It is really an awesome privilege to go back to the state tournament,” Cline said. “We must play well, have good teamwork, keep our minds in the game and hustle and play with a lot of heart.”
Pitcher Emilee Walker is also thrilled to play in the state tourney.
“It really is an awesome feeling. We have to play our best and we will be OK,” Walker said.
Cydnee Lambert, a transfer from Chapmanville, is playing in the state tourney for the first time.
“For it being my first and last time going to the states it is an undescribable feeling,” Lambert said. “All of us have to play together and sacrifice ourselves for our teammates.”
For freshman Chelsea Vance, it’s her first trip to state.
“I’m only a freshman and I am glad I get to experince it for the first time. We have to play as a team and have good teamwork,” Vance said.
Savannah McCormack said Man must stay positive.
“I’m pretty excited about going back. It’s a great feeling. I feel we are going to do well this year. We have to play smart and work as a team and stay positive even if we get down.”
Pitcher Haylee Daniels said the Lady Billies must make the most out of their opportunity.
“It feels great and I’m glad that we have the opportunity to go back again. We have to hit the ball to the best of our ability and have good pitching as well,” Daniels said.
Morgan Muncy said she also feels pretty good to make it back to Vienna.
“Teamwork, staying positive and working hard. Those are the keys,” she said.