Rager's big day carries Hoover
FALLING ROCK, W.Va. -- After one swing of the bat, Herbert Hoover's Allison Rager couldn't stop smiling.
The sophomore launched a solo home run, the first round-tripper in her brief high school career, in her final at-bat Friday evening, then put the finishing touches on a three-hit shutout to lead the Huskies past Chapmanville 4-0. A crowd of about 125 attended the matchup of Class AA state-ranked teams at Michael D. Chandler Field in Falling Rock.
Rager sent the second pitch she saw to lead off the bottom of the sixth into left-center field to give Hoover a 3-0 lead.
"It was a feeling as soon as [the ball] went off the bat I knew,'' smiled Rager, who finished 3 for 3 with two singles, a home run and scored two runs.
"Everybody said my smile was really big. When you get that feeling you just know. My last two games haven't been as good hitting games as I've wanted them to be. I knew I needed to step it up a little as the No. 4 hitter.''
Rager also dominated from the circle, striking out 11 against two walks and only allowing three balls to reach the outfield. At one point she whiffed five in a row and also had three putouts.
"She makes my job easy,'' Hoover coach Missy Smith said of Rager. "She crushed that home run. I'm pretty proud of her.''
Rager put Hoover (2-1), which is No. 2 in the state coaches association preseason poll, ahead for good in the fourth when she led off with a single, moved to second on senior Damia Mogielski's single and took third on a Chapmanville error. Rager plated the first run on a wild pitch when Tigers senior pitcher Talya Berry put ball four in the dirt past senior catcher Hanna Wooten.
Mogielski came around after the infield fly rule was called with the bases loaded on Hoover senior Amber Oaks' short pop over second base. Chapmanville freshman shortstop Shian Meeks was unable to get to the ball and it dropped behind the bag, allowing Mogielski to score for a 2-0 edge.
The Huskies didn't score again until Rager's solo shot in the sixth and added another run when Mogielski came home on a wild pitch with the bases loaded.
The No. 3 Tigers (3-3) made some unexpected noise in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with one out after Berry and Wooten singled and right fielder Savannah Wiley coaxed a walk. Rager, though, failed to give in and fanned the next two batters, the last one looking to end the game.
Hoover opened the season with a win at defending state champion Wayne, but was shut out by AAA Lincoln County on Wednesday. Wayne knocked the Huskies out of last year's postseason in the regional finals, one win away from the state tournament.
"Everything,'' said Smith when asked what her team needs to improve upon. "Just getting better. It's hard to be satisfied.
"This is only our third game and [Berry] throws hard and we put the ball in play. We've got to stop chasing the pitcher's pitches and start waiting on strikes. Chapmanville is a great program and they've won a lot of games, so any time you can beat them it's a good win.''
Berry allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits in 51/3 innings with six punchouts and two walks.
"We're young,'' said Chapmanville veteran coach Ronnie Ooten, who starts two sophomores and three freshmen. "We can't finish. We're not battlers. Young kids are going to make mistakes. If I can stand it, I think we'll get better. We can't quit. It's easy to quit.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.