Lady Cats put Lady Tigers in sectional hole
by PAUL ADKINS, Sports Editor
Most area softball fans thought Thursday's Class AA sectional tourney opener between Chapmanville and Logan would be close.
But which way would it go?
It could have easily went either way.
That's the way this county rivalry goes.
Logan, though, was able to defeat the defending sectional, regional and state champion Lady Tigers 4-1 at the Logan Softball Complex to take an early advantage in the tourney.
Logan (19-11), the No. 2 sectional seed, advances to play No. 1 Scott on Monday at 5:30 p.m. in Game 3.
Chapmanville (21-9), which beat Point Pleasant 4-0 in Wednesday night's regular season finale, is now just one loss away from elimination.
The No. 3 seeded Lady Tigers are scheduled to face the Logan-Scott loser at 7:30 p.m. on Monday in the elimination game.
The two surviving teams are then set to meet on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the finals.
If the double-elimination tournament requires a winner-take-all final it would be played immediately after Tuesday's contest.
The Lady Cats were just happy to beat Chapmanville, a team which is now 1-4 this season against LHS and Scott.
Sophomore Ali Neace, who has battled arm problems this season, pitched the complete game win. She went seven innings and allowed one run and six hits with nine strikeouts and three walks.
Andi Williamson suffered the loss for the Lady Tigers. She went six innings and allowed four runs and six hits while striking out 10 and walking none.
Lanna Bates got Logan jumpstarted in the bottom of the first inning as she ripped a two-run homer beyond the left centerfield fence to make it 2-0. Laura Noe got things started with a double off of the top of the taller left field fence.
Chapmanville cut it to 2-1 in the top of the sixth with an RBI single by Emily Meeks but Bates added an RBI double and pinch-hitter Britta Aguirre added an RBI single to make it 4-1 in the last half of the sixth.
Neace then got Chapmanville out one-two-three in the top of the seventh to put the win on ice.
Logan coach Kevin Bates said he is proud of his team but knew he would be in for a battle against the defending state champs.
"It was a great win," Coach Bates said. "Hats off to Chapmanville. They battled back and they tried to shut us down but we just knew that it was going to be a dog fight. It always is. We happened to jump on them early and held on to it this time. They scratched back but we got two more runs. Andi Williamson is one of the best pitchers in the state. Of course, we've got Ali Neace back in the groove. I thought that she threw real well in her first game back since early in the season."
Both teams had six hits for the game but Logan's were more timely.
Lanna Bates was 2-for-3 with three RBI for the game. Noe had two doubles and went 2-for-3. Erin Stone and Aguirre had the other two hits. Stone also had a sacrifice bunt.
"We've really been working hard on figuring out how to put it into play," Coach Bates said. "It has paid off. The girls have figured it out and have gotten some confidence in their swings."
The Logan mentor praised his daughter, Lanna, the Logan shortstop and second baseman Noe for getting Logan's offensive attack going.
"She got snake-bit the other night in the first inning against Andi," Coach Bates said of Lanna. "I don't know what she was thinking at the time. There was one on and a 2-0 count. Some of our technique was to learn how to hit when you are ahead and learn how to hit when you are behind. Apparently, she must have remembered some of it and she got something that she liked. She put it out of the park and that put us up real quick. But I think what started it was Laura Noe. She's our spark plug. We have a little motto on our team and that is when Laura goes the Lady Cats go. The first one bounced off the top of the fence. The reason the fence is a little bit taller in left is because it is a little bit shorter than regulation by about four feet."
Coach Bates said Logan's two insurance runs in the sixth were huge.
"Lanna then gets another big hit and Britta gets us a big hit coming off the bench," he said. "It was a great team effort."
Williamson was 2-for-3 to lead the Lady Tigers.
Beth Baldwin, Bre Thomas, Lauren McCann and Meeks had the other hits.
Down 2-0, Chapmanville made some noise in the sixth.
Williamson and Thomas had back-to-back singles to get the rally started.
Chapmanville coach Ronnie Ooten then took Tiffini Hale out of the game in place of Brittani Lowe, hoping the freshman pinch-hitter could lay down a bunt. Lowe, however, fouled off a bunt on a 3-1 count and fanned for the first out of the inning.
Meeks then had her RBI single to cut the deficit to 2-1 but Neace was able to strike out Haley Hendricks and get McCann to foul out to first to end the threat.
The Lady Cats shift focus to Monday's even bigger sectional tourney game with Scott.
The winner of that game will be in the driver's seat.
Logan is 0-2 against Scott this season, losing 12-0 at home and falling 2-1 at Madison.
"It's going to be another dog fight," Coach Bates said. "The last one was 2-1 and we expect it to be another close game. It's going to be a big one. Whoever wins that one is going to be in the driver's seat."
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