CHAPMANVILLE The Chapmanville Regional High School softball team made history last year by repeating as the Class AA state champions.
Now, the Lady Tigers are going for a historic 3-peat this spring.
Chapmanville surprised all last season by winning the Class AA state title the schools second straight with a 3-1 win over Ritchie County in the championship game at Vienna.
After a rocky 7-7 start, another state crown or even a state tournament berth at all seemed unlikely. However, the Lady Tigers got hot in the stretch drive of the season and was able to repeat as the state champion for the first time in school history.
With many players returning from last years team, including the top four pitchers, Chapmanville is now gunning for three in a row.
It certainly wont be easy.
But if the Lady Tigers succeed they would become the first ever varsity team in Logan County history to win three straight state titles in a major sport.
The Man High School softball team just missed last years bid for a 3-peat as the two-time defending Class A state champion Lady Billies lost in the Single-A state finals to South Harrison on the diamond next door to the Lady Tigers in Vienna.
The Logan High School boys basketball team, softball squad and baseball team have also won two straight state crowns in its history, as well as the old Aracoma High School football team an eon ago.
So the table is now set for the Lady Tigers.
Can Chapmanville do it?
The competition will be difficult and the journey will be long and hard but most think the Lady Tigers have the team to do it.
Chapmanville coach Ronnie Ooten, in his 31st year as the head mentor, is optimistic about the season. Hes led Chapmanville to five state titles, including three crowns in the last four years. This year, the Chapmanville girls move into the their new softball facility which sits between the elementary school and the high school parking lot.
Its been a pleasure coaching these girls, Ooten said. They have stepped up and they deserve the best. This is going to be a state-of-the art facility when it gets done. I wouldnt have given you a dime to win it last year but we won it and weve got a lot of kids back. Its going to be tougher this year. Weve got the same problem this year. Weve got a lot of talent but weve got to keep everyone happy. Thats tough.
CRHS, 25-14 last year, is scheduled to open the season on Saturday at 2 p.m. at home against Point Pleasant.
Chapmanville returns its top four pitchers from last year, including junior ace hurler Allison Evans. Her twin sister, Jenna Evans, is also back in the circle, as well as Talya Berry and Haley McCann, who also pitched some last season.
We were in the gym last week warming up our pitchers and we warmed up nine, Ooten said. Were loaded with pitchers. Allison will probably be our number one. From there, weve got Jenna, Talya and McCann. Talya throws it as hard as anyone that Ive seen. She just has to work some on her control but shell be fine this year. Weve got four dandy pitchers and weve also got Hailey Bumgarner who just came from the middle school. Weve also got Emma Farris and she can get it in the strike zone.
Behind the plate, Chapmanville returns junior starter Alyssa Bailey. She started there as a sophomore last year and did a steady job as she took over the catching duties from graduated senior and all-stater Poppy Ramey. CRHS also has Hannah Wooten as a catcher. She can play outfield as well.
Ooten said many starting spots are up for grabs.
Were going to practice and scrimmage and move some people around. We might be like last year where it will take us 10 or 15 games for us to find some chemistry on the field, he said.
At first base, junior Heather Nagy is back.
Second base seems like a toss up heading into the season, according to Ooten, with several candidates in the mix.
At shortstop, Jenna Evans returns as a starter. When shes on the mound, Allison Evans will most likely fill the spot.
At third base, Chapmanville must find a replacement for four-year starter Bre Thomas, who graduated. Thomas was the Lady Tigers third sack starter as a freshman on the 2007 state championship team and also started there on the Lady Tigers state title teams of 2009 and 2010.
Weve been spoiled there for four years, Ooten said. For four years I had a dandy there. Well really miss her there and well miss her leadership.
To find a replacement for Thomas, the Lady Tigers may turn to McCann. Others are also fighting for playing time.
In the outfield, its also a toss-up, Ooten said. Starting right fielder from a year ago, Brittani Lowe, has graduated. Speedy Samantha Carver, used mostly as a courtesy runner last season, could be the one to fill in for Lowe.
Wooten looks to be the starter in center field.
Brandi Broom has the inside nod in left, Ooten said.
After opening with Point Pleasant on Saturday at the new softball field, the Lady Tigers are scheduled to host Poca next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Chapmanville then plays at Wayne on March 24 at Sissonville on March 25 and at 3A county rival Logan on March 28 before hosting Sherman on March 30 at 4 p.m.
Chapmanville then hosts the nine-team Lady Tigers Invitational April 1-2. CRHS will use the new diamond and the old ASA field as Poca, Tolsia, Riverside, Logan, Sherman, Point Pleasant, Wyoming East and Man are set to take part.
As always, the Lady Tigers will play a tough schedule.
In addition to the usual Cardinal Conference heavyweights, CRHS plays a home-and-home with Logan, last years 3A state runner-ups.
The Lady Tigers and Lady Cats, former Double-A sectional rivals, have had a good rivalry over the years. Logan won both meetings with CRHS last season.
Chapmanville is also back in the states two top tournaments the Best of the Best tourney at Buffalo on April 6 and 9 and the Cabell Midland Sluggerfest, April 15-16.
The Lady Tigers also play a home-and-home series with sectional rival Scott, which joins the Cardinal Conference this spring.
When you play in the Cardinal Conference you are going to play some of the best teams in the state, Ooten said. Were also in the Best of the Best and the Sluggerfest. Weve also got our own tournament. Weve got Scott again in the section. Its always a war with them. They want to beat us and we want to beat them.
This years sectional tourney is scheduled to be played on Scotts home field at Madison.