PARKERSBURG - All season long, defending Class AA state champion Ritchie County and Wayne appeared to be headed for a showdown at the state softball tournament in Vienna.
That showdown occurred, and the Rebels and Pioneers clashed three times, with Wayne coming out on top in the final two to take home the school's first state title in the sport.
Fittingly, both teams placed three of their standouts on the Class AA all-state first team, which was announced today by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Representing the state champion Pioneers are pitcher Jessie Rowe and infielders Jessica Watts and Jacey Parsons. The Ritchie trio includes catcher Allison DeLancey, who was selected the team's captain for the second year in a row, pitcher Kelsey Waggoner and infielder Cassidy Ray.
"[Rowe] is our workhorse on the field and has led this team to their first state championship," said Wayne head coach Tish Smith. "She seems to perform her best when the situation seems too much to handle for some."
Rowe, a sophomore, posted a 21-3 mark with 115 strikeouts during the regular season, then twirled a one-hitter against the Rebels in the winner-take-all state championship game.
Ritchie's DeLancey, who finished with 12 home runs, 39 stolen bases and a .622 batting average, was one of Rowe's victims, being held hitless in the title game.
"Despite that game, [DeLancey] was the best player in the state this year," said Rebels coach Dave Mossor. "She has always had the ability to hit, but combine that with the talent to play any position on the field as well as the ability to steal any base at any time and there was no more complete player around.
"To be honest, I'm not sure what we are going to do without her next year."