VIENNA — The beat went on for the Chapmanville Regional High School softball team on Wednesday morning in Vienna in the Class AA state tournament.
The Lady Tigers improved to 17-3 in state tourney play since 1999 — an 85 winning percentage — with a 5-1 victory over Oak Glen at Jackson Memorial Park.
The victory moved Chapmanville (30-5) into Wednesday night’s winner’s bracket game against James Monroe (21-7), which defeated Petersburg 7-6 in Wednesday’s other Double-A state tourney matchup.
Petersburg (29-5) was set to face Oak Glen (13-13) in Wednesday afternoon’s elimination game.
With a win over James Monroe, Chapmanville would move into Thursday’s 2:30 p.m. state championship game.
Chapmanville is searching for the school’s sixth state softball championship and first since winning back-to-back crowns in 2009 and 2010.
The Lady Tigers started out slowly against the Golden Bears but were boosted by home runs by seniors Savannah Wiley and Shian Meeks.
Both were back-breakers to the Golden Bears.
Leading just 1-0 in the top of the sixth, Wiley, a recent signee with West Virginia Wesleyan College, crushed a solo homer to center — her seventh of the season — as Chapmanville led 2-0.
Then in the seventh, Chapmanville tacked on three more insurance runs with the big blow being a two-run shot by Meeks over the left field fence, giving the Lady Tigers a 5-0 lead. For Meeks it was her 11th home run of the season. Meeks, who is also headed to play alongside Wiley at West Virginia Wesleyan, is having a big year. She went into the state tournament batting .453 with 10 homers and 55 RBI.
Wiley was hitting .408 with six homers and 39 RBI going into the tourney.
Oak Glen was able to scratch out a run in the bottom of the seventh, breaking up Chapmanville sophomore pitcher Kenzie McCann’s shutout bid. The Golden Bears scored after back-to-back doubles by Mikayla Crane and Eileen Flowers.
McCann then finished off Oak Glen by getting a ground out to shortstop.
Chapmanville 36th-year head coach Ronnie Ooten was happy with the win, knowing all well that getting the first victory in the state tournament and staying in the winner’s bracket is so huge.
Chapmanville is making its first state tournament appearance in five years and have been rebuilding its program ever since. The Lady Tigers’ last showing in 2011 did not go so well as CRHS went 1-2 to get bounced from the tourney.
Since 1999, Chapmanville’s only other setback in the state tournament was a loss in 2010 to Ritchie County — a defeat which forced a winner-take-all final right afterwards in which CRHS won 3-1 to take the title.
That’s something that Chapmanville wants to avoid this year.
The Lady Tigers want to make it a sweep with a 3-0 mark and ride McCann’s arm all the way to the state title.
“We got into a hole one time and we had to battle out,” Ooten said, referring to the 2010 state tourney. “Kenzie is a good pitcher but we just don’t have solid backup pitching. Those couple of home runs helped but I just worried about getting down to the end and not finishing but we finished and we did well.”
McCann pitched the win for the Lady Tigers and improved her record to 27-5 on the season. McCann has pitched the lion’s share of innings this year for CRHS. She allowed one run on five hits, striking out six and walking only one batter.
Hannah Clunk was saddled with the loss within the pitching circle for Oak Glen. She fanned four over seven innings and gave up five runs on nine hits with two issued walks.
McCann was 2-for-3 at the plate with one RBI for Chapmanville. Jada Freeman was 2-for-4 with a pair of singles. Grace Belcher was 2-for-3 with a double.
Hollie Carter added an RBI double for Chapmanville in the seventh, which put CRHS on top 3-0 ahead of the two-run shot by Meeks.
Meeks was 1-for-4 with the homer, while Wiley was 1-for-3 with her home run. Karah Little had two sacrifice bunts for the Lady Tigers.
McCann’s RBI single to left center gave Chapmanville a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning. She drove in Belcher, who had doubled.
“We’ve hit the ball all year,” Ooten said. “We’ve had some kids that have batted well that didn’t bat that well today. I just felt like we didn’t have much time to get up here and loosen up. Playing at 10 o’clock in the morning, that’s tough. But it was a good win and we’ll take it.”
Chapmanville has now hit 31 team home runs this season.
It’s believed to be a school record.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).