CHAPMANVILLE — Just as Yogi Berra once said it was like déjà vu all over again.
Unfortunately for the Chapmanville Regional High School softball team history did repeat itself.
For the second straight year, the Lady Tigers were ousted in the Class AA regional semifinals as Cardinal Conference foe Wayne knocked off Chapmanville 4-1 on Thursday night at Chapmanville Regional’s Ronnie Ooten Field.
With the loss, the Lady Tigers’ roller coaster of a season came to a close at 15-17. It’s believed to be only the second ever losing season for the Chapmanville softball program in its 33-year existence.
Chapmanville was hit hard by graduation from last year’s team and the young Lady Tigers could never really find its groove, often struggling at the plate and making costly fielding errors.
Those two bugaboos were evident again in Thursday night’s game with Wayne. Chapmanville committed three errors and only managed three hits for the game off Wayne pitcher Jessie Rowe — all coming in the first inning.
The Pioneers, the defending Class AA state champion, improved to 25-6 on the season and are scheduled to play host to Sissonville (16-12) in next Thursday night’s regional title game in another matchup between Cardinal Conference teams. Sissonville upset Hoover 7-3 in Thursday’s other Region 4 semifinal. Hoover closed out the season with a 23-4 record.
Wayne swept the season series with Chapmanville, also winning 9-0 and 2-1.
Thursday night’s contest was the final prep game for the Lady Tigers’ four senior starters — pitcher Talya Berry, catcher Hanna Wooten, left fielder Brandi Broom and pitcher/first baseman Emma Paris.
Berry was Chapmanville’s No. 1 pitcher this season and closed out with a 14-14 record. She also led the team at the plate with a .379 batting average, two home runs and 19 RBI. She hit eight homers in her career, including the first-ever home run at the new Ronnie Ooten Field in 2011.
Wooten was also one of Chapmanville’s top hitters this season with a .342 batting average. She also hit two homers and drove in 19 runs.
Berry allowed four runs (only one earned) and four hits but walked seven while striking out five. Rowe allowed just one run and three hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
CRHS coach Ronnie Ooten said it just didn’t work out.
“We gave up too many walks and we had two or three errors,” he said. “We had three unearned runs scored on us and we got beat 4-1. We had base runners and we had opportunities to score. We couldn’t get our bunts down when we needed to but that’s part of it. We had an opportunity to win the game but you can’t win games on paper, you have to win it on the field. I coach hard and they coach hard. I told them (Wayne) to go and win it.”
Ooten was gracious in defeat and said Wayne has a very good team. He’s also proud of his team for rallying back to win their fifth straight Class AA sectional title last week at Scott.
“They are a real ball club,” Ooten said of Wayne. “But I’m proud of my team, too. We battled and we didn’t quit. We won two good ones over at Madison. A lot of people thought they (Wayne) would come over here and waltz all over us and beat the stuff out of us but we gave them a ballgame.”
Ooten said he hates to lose his seniors.
“That’s always hard. We just have to rebuild,” he said in closing.
Wayne coach Tish Smith said it’s no small feat in beating Chapmanville two years in a row in the regionals. The Lady Tigers had dominated the region for a long time.
“It’s never easy and it’s never easy here,” Smith said. “Ronnie always has his team prepared. It’s a good rivalry. We all get along well. We know that they are going to bring it every time that we come down here.”
The Pioneers didn’t hit the ball very well but made each base hit count. Two of the seven walked batters ended up scoring.
“Our goal was the put the ball into play and see good pitches. Talya is a great pitcher,” Smith said. “When she brings it you have to be smart at the plate and put the ball in play.”
Wayne went up 1-0 in the top of the first inning as leadoff batter Emily Fry singled, Jess Watts had an infield single and Fry came home on Jacey Parsons’ sacrifice fly to right.
Chapmanville tied it up in the bottom of the first inning.
Broom led off with a single to right and Lauryn Easterling put two runners on with her single to right field.
Wooten then stepped up and clubbed an RBI single to right to make it 1-1.
Chapmanville then loaded the bases with two outs as Berry walked and Samarah Hurst was safe on a fielder’s choice.
Rowe, however, got out of the jam by getting a force out at the plate and then fanned Cydnee Lambert.
Chapmanville’s three first-inning hits were the only hits of the game as Rowe was able to shut down the Lady Tigers the rest of the way.
Wayne made it 2-1 in the fourth by scoring a run on a Chapmanville error.
The Pioneers upped the margin to 3-1 in the fifth as Kasey Endicott walked and ended up sliding in safely head first at the plate after another Lady Tiger error. Ooten and the Chapmanville bench disputed the call as it looked as if Lady Tiger catcher Wooten had tagged Endicott on the body before she dove to the outside of the plate and touched the corner of the dish with her fingers.
Wayne added an insurance run in the top of the sixth as Tasha Maynard walked, stole second and later scored on a wild pitch.
Rowe then finished off the Lady Tigers as she retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings to close out the victory.