VIENNA — The Chapmanville Regional High School softball team made the hard way look easy on Thursday.
Needing three wins, the Lady Tigers swept a triple-header of games to win the Class AA state championship at Vienna’s Jackson Memorial Park.
The capper was a 10-0, five-inning jewel over James Monroe as the Lady Tigers claimed its sixth overall state softball title.
Chapmanville (33-6) had to slog its way out of the loser’s bracket on Thursday morning with a 4-0 victory over Petersburg, then won 12-4 over James Monroe to set the table for the winner-take-all final.
Knowing by rule ace pitcher Kenzie McCann could only pitch 14 innings on Thursday and after the sophomore hurled Chapmanville to the first two wins on the day, CRHS coach Ronnie Ooten turned to second baseman Alli Harless in the second championship game.
Harless went four innings and recorded three strikeouts to win the title game.
With one inning available, McCann then closed out James Monroe in the bottom of the fifth to put Chapmanville Regional’s championship season into the books.
“She’s the hero, by far she’s the hero,” Ooten said of Harless, who had only pitched 12 2/3 innings on the season heading into the game. “Alli Harless did a fantastic job. She pitched a heck of a ballgame. The thing that I was worried about is that Kenzie would be out of innings. But we had one more inning for her and I was saving it for her right there.”
In the second championship game, Chapmanville jumped on an unraveling James Monroe team for five runs in the top of the first inning.
The big blow was left fielder Karah Little’s three-run homer to left. The bomb gave the Lady Tigers a 4-0 lead. CRHS then tacked on another with Kara Browning’s RBI double to left. Senior Savannah Wiley also had an RBI single to right center in the inning.
“I didn’t see it go over because I was running too hard. It was my only one of the season,” said Little, who hadn’t homered all season—an oddity in a lineup loaded with sluggers. “We were on it today. I was really proud of us. Our hitting came through and I’m so proud of us. Usually it takes us a while to get started, usually by the fourth or fifth inning.”
Chapmanville then tacked on five more runs.
The Lady Tigers scored one in the second as McCann singled, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch as Chapmanville led 6-0.
Four more runs came across in the top of the fifth as Chapmanville had the mercy rule in effect. McCann had a two run single in the inning.
McCann then came on in relief in the bottom of the fifth and got the Mavs out one, two, three.
McCann stayed hot at the dish and went 3 for 4 with a double and a pair of RBIs. Grace Belcher went 3 for 3 with an RBI in the victory and senior Savannah Wiley was 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Little was 2 for 3 with three RBI. Browning and Jada Freeman added hits.
Brooke Prunesti finished 2 for 2 and had half of the Mavericks’ four hits, all of which were singles.
Wiley said the Lady Tigers were confident it could win three games.
“We knew that we had to be confident,” said Wiley, who is headed to play college ball at West Virginia Wesleyan. “We knew that we had to win three games because we dropped down into the loser’s bracket last night. We knew that we could do it. We knew that Kenzie could only pitch two games but we had her for that one inning, so Alli Harless came out there and did a great job. We put Kenzie back in and she finished them off.”
Meeks also went out a winner.
She will join Wiley next year as well on the West Virginia Wesleyan women’s softball team.
“It feels great and I’m so excited,” Meeks said. “It was hard winning three games today but I knew that if we stayed focused we could do it.”
Even though Harless said she hadn’t pitched much this season she said she felt pretty good, especially with all of the early run support that seemed to take the pressure off of her.
“I felt pretty comfortable out there because I had a good team behind me,” Harless said. “It’s the best feeling ever to win a state championship. We wanted to go out there and win and win it for the seniors.”
James Monroe coach Greg Wickline said the better team came out on top.
“We played really well yesterday, but we just didn’t hit the ball or make the routine plays today,” Wickline said. “Chapmanville, they’re as quality a team as there is out there. If we’re going to get beat by somebody, I guess I’m glad it’s them.”
McCann, who went 3 for 3 with a double, tossed a four-hit shutout that featured no walks and five strikeouts to help lead the Lady Tigers to a 4-0 victory against Petersburg in the early morning elimination game.
Chapmanville had all the runs it needed thanks to Meeks’ two-run shot in the top of the first off losing pitcher Cassie Hedrick. Freeman also had an RBI as the Vikings concluded their season at 30-6.
Needing to win two games for a championship, it was first things first for the Lady Tigers, who pounded out 18 hits en route to a 12-4 victory against James Monroe in the first championship game.
The Mavericks (22-10) trailed 6-1 after two and despite cutting it to 6-4 following a three-run third, they didn’t get any closer.
McCann tossed six innings for the victory and went 2 for 4 at the plate. The left-handed hitting Freeman had the big game offensively, going 4 for 5 with two doubles and five runs knocked in. Wiley finished 2 for 5 with three RBIs while Hollie Carter went 3 for 5 with an RBI.
Meeks was 2 for 4 with one RBI. Little was 2 for 4 with one RBI. Browning, Belcher and Harless also had hits.
Savannah Sykes had a two-run blast in the third for the Mavericks, who made three errors behind complete game losing pitcher Lexi Carter.
Leading 6-4, CRHS added two in the fourth after a surprise squeeze bunt by Wiley and Freeman’s run scoring double to right.
In the sixth, the Lady Tigers tacked on three more to grab an 11-4 lead. Freeman, Belcher and Little each had RBI singles.
Wiley’s RBI single in the seventh made it 12-4.
Harless pitched a scoreless seventh in relief to notch the save.
Chapmanville improved to 20-4 in state tourney games played since 1999.
It was the Lady Tigers’ first state tournament appearance in five years.
— Look for more on the Lady Tigers’ state championship in Tuesday’s Logan Banner sports.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).