CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's not always the team that's playing its best that survives during the postseason. Often it's the one that can persevere and navigate through the minefield of adversity that advances to the next round.
Several teams in the Kanawha Valley did just that during last week's high school softball sectional tournaments and now find themselves on the doorstep of the state tournament.
Hurricane, South Charleston and St. Albans in Class AAA; Herbert Hoover and Sissonville in AA and Buffalo in Class A each captured sectional titles and moved on to Thursday's regional semifinals.
Hurricane, which finished third in the final state sportswriters' poll, captured its section for the first time in at least five years, needing all three games in the double-elimination format to take down No. 4 Lincoln County. Hurricane won the first meeting handily (9-2), but dropped the second 7-5 before pulling out a 13-6 victory in the deciding game.
"The biggest goal of the year was to win this,'' said Hurricane fifth-year coach Josh Caldwell. "For [our players] to battle back like that ... it's a good effort all around. Now the next goal is the state tournament and 30 wins. We've got some steps to take to get to all that."
Hurricane will get another stern test when it hosts No. 2 Cabell Midland at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Region 4 semis. The teams have already met three times, with the Redskins winning 15-13 then falling to the Knights 9-8 in the semifinals of the Best of the Best Softball Classic and 12-2 in the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship game.
"It goes from easier to easier," joked Caldwell. "Midland's a great team. To me, they're the best in the state. If we play like we're capable of, we can beat anybody. I feel good about it. I like our chances. If our hitters are disciplined and do what they're supposed, we can be in any game."
No. 8 SA swept through its section, winning all three games. But in the final two games with Logan, St. Albans yielded 23 hits and committed four errors in 15-6 and 14-7 victories. The Red Dragons, who start several sophomores and freshmen, visit Point Pleasant at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Region 4 semis. The two teams didn't play during the regular season.