Logan County’s three high school softball teams have had differing paths this spring as post-season play is set to begin this week.
The goal is the still same for Man, Chapmanville and Logan.
And that is to reach the state softball tournament, which is set for May 22-23 at Vienna.
It begins this week as the sectional softball tournaments are scheduled to be played.
Man (17-5), ranked No. 7 in the state in Class A, seems to have the most direct route to the state tourney but will most likely have to face off with No. 4 Sherman in the upcoming Class A Region 4 semifinals.
The Tide are red hot with a 22-7 record and have beaten the Lady Billies three out of four meetings this season.
For Chapmanville and Logan, the two state softball powerhouses have both suffered sub .500 seasons — something the Lady Tigers and Lady Cats are unaccustomed to.
Chapmanville had a 12-14 record heading into Monday night’s regular season finale at Sissonville.
Logan was 11-15 going into Monday’s finale at South Charleston.
The Lady Cats’ pitching staff has been decimated by late season arm problems and illnesses.
Logan No. 1 hurler and senior Shana Hall and No. 2 pitcher Aarron Ward have battled sore arms and have been out of the lineup the last two weeks. No. 3 pitcher Hana Sedlock was stricken with bronchitis late in the season and missed a few starts. Hall and Ward have tendon injuries in their pitching arms and are questionable.
The Lady Cats were forced to turn to position players Chastidy Wiley, the team’s starting catcher, and senior first baseman Antonia Hill, who hadn’t pitched since the seventh grade.
Logan, though, was able to break a six-game losing skid on Saturday by sweeping to a 4-2, 10-2 doubleheader victory at home over Pikeview (11-12).
Man is scheduled to have a best-of-three game Class A sectional tournament series with Tug Valley this week at home.
The Lady Billies are expected to beat Tug Valley easily. Man rolled to 11-0 and 17-0 wins over winless Tug Valley during the regular season.
The Lady Panthers (0-10) played only 10 games this season and lost them all by wide margins, surrendering 10 or more runs in each defeat.
Game 1 is set for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Man. Game 2 between the Lady Billies and Lady Panthers is slated for Wednesday at 5:30.
Man is led by senior ace right-hander Taylor Tomblin, who pitched for Man in the 2010 Class A state championship game.
The Lady Billies also have a fine catcher in Summer Sword, who has already signed on to play at the collegiate level with West Virginia State.
Three of Man’s five losses this season were to Sherman — two of which were only by one run in 1-0 and 7-6 setbacks. Man also lost 11-1 to Sherman in the Best of the Best Tournament at Buffalo.
On April 16 at home in the fourth meeting, the Lady Billies knocked off the Tide 3-2 in eight innings.
In the win over Sherman, Man won with Emilee Osborne’s RBI single. Osborne, Man’s starting centerfielder, is a four-year starter and a fine defensive player with great range. Man also has a good shortstop in Cari Blair, who has been out of late due to injury.
The Lady Billies enter post-season play riding an eight-game winning streak. In the finale last week, Man won 2-1 in eight innings over Logan to earn a season series split with the Lady Cats.
Early in the season at Chapmanville’s Lady Tiger Invitational, Man also had a brilliant showing with a 2-0 record including wins over Class A Poca (9-1) and Pikeview (6-2).
The Lady Billies’ other two games in the Chapmanville tourney were suspended by rain by were eye-openers. Man was trailing Class AA No. 2-ranked Ritchie County 6-4 in the fourth inning and was rallying before the game was called. Man then played Class AAA No. 2 Lincoln County and was trailing 2-1 in the fifth before the game was called due to rain.
Man has been without head coach Randy Epperly for much of the season. Epperly, who coached the Lady Billies to back-to-back Class A state championships in 2008 and 2009 and a runner-up finish in 2010, has been ill. Assistant coaches Billy Jack Dickerson and Charlie Adkins stepped this season in Epperly’s absense.
The Chapmanville Regional High School Lady Tigers are scheduled to play a best-of-three game sectional series with rival Scott (17-8) beginning Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m. at the Scott High School softball field in Madison.
Game 2 is Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Game 3, if necessary, would then been played on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., also at Madison.
It’s been an up-and-down 2013 season for the Lady Tigers, which have won four straight sectional titles over Scott, including back-to-back Class AA state crowns in 2009 and 2010.
Chapmanville, led by head coach Ronnie Ooten, now in his 33rd season at the helm, split with the Lady Hawks this season. The Lady Tigers lost 10-2 at Scott on March 28, then came back to win 4-3 in nine innings over the Lady Hawks on April 18 at home.
Scott has won three out of its last five games going into the sectionals.
Chapmanville is led by senior pitcher Talya Berry.
Other key Lady Tigers are: senior catcher Hanna Wooten, No. 2 pitcher and senior Emma Paris and senior left fielder Brandi Broom.
One bright spot this season for Chapmanville was when it swept county rival Logan by 6-4 and 8-1 scores. In the last meeting, an 8-1 Lady Tiger victory on the road — shortstop Shian Meeks was 3-for-3 at the plate. Starting and winning pitcher Berry had two hits and ripped a 250-foot home run to left. Broom also had two hits and three RBI.
CRHS goes into sectional play on a three-game winning streak. The Lady Tigers swept the Poca Dots 8-0 and 12-2 last Thursday after beating Logan.
If the Lady Tigers get past Scott in the sectionals, Chapmanville would most likely play Wayne (20-5) in the Class AA regional semifinals. Chapmanville lost in last year’s regionals to Wayne which went on to win the state title. The Lady Pioneers, 17-2 in their last 19 games after a so-so 3-3 start, are expected to breeze to the sectional championship as Wayne’s opponents are Tolsia (4-13) and Mingo Central (5-20).
It’s been a rough ride this season for Logan, coached by Randy Robinette.
The Lady Cats, which went 112-23 the last four years and made four straight trips to the Class AAA state tournament, were hit hard by graduation and have been injury-plagued, especially on the mound.
Logan is set to play in a new Class AAA sectional tourney this week against Nitro (9-11) and St. Albans — two teams the Lady Cats did not play in the regular season.
This year’s sectionals at St. Albans, are scheduled to begin with Wednesday’s Nitro vs. St. Albans game at 5:30 p.m. Logan will then play the loser at 7:30 p.m. in the double elimination tourney.
The winners of the two games are set to face off on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the finals. A winner-take-all championship game would then be played on Friday at 5:30 p.m., if necessary, also at St. Albans.
If Logan wins the sectional title it would then play either Point Pleasant or Winfield in the regional semifinals.
The regional final opponent would be either Cabell Midland, Hurricane, Lincoln County, Spring Valley or Huntington.
Logan was moved from Region 3 to a tougher Region 4 this season.
The Lady Cats’ old sectional opponents were George Washington and South Charleston.
Logan last played St. Albans in the sectional tourney in 2000.
The Lady Cats have won four state titles in their history with the last one being a 2A crown in 2006.
In addition to its five pitchers, Logan is led by shortstop Rachelle Toppings, who has signed on to play collegiate softball at the University of Charleston. Other key players are: centerfielder Summer Collins; second baseman Shelby Hale; and right fielder Hannah Kolovich.
Logan has lost six out of its last eight games heading into sectional play. The Lady Cats are 6-10 in their last 16 as the injuries have taken their toll.
Sectional Softball Schedule
at St. Albans High School
Wednesday: Nitro at St. Albans, 5:30 p.m.; Logan vs. Nitro-St. Albans loser, 7:30 p.m.
at Scott High School
Tuesday: Chapmanville at Scott, 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday: Chapmanville at Scott, 5:30 p.m.
Thursday: Chapmanville at Scott, 5:30 p.m. (if necessary)
at Man High School
Tuesday: Tug Valley at Man, 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday: Tug Valley at Man, 5:30 p.m.
Thursday: Tug Valley at Man, 5:30 p.m. (if necessary)