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Several Kanawha Valley softball teams through to regionals

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.

SC swept past George Washington in their sectional matchup by 8-0 and 11-5 scores. After SC senior pitcher Alli Burdette fired the second perfect game of her career in the opener, the Black Eagles had to rally past the Patriots in the second game with 11 runs in the last three innings after falling behind 4-0 on six errors.

The Black Eagles host No. 10 Ripley in the Region 3 semis. The Vikings needed a third game to get past Riverside 3-2 in eight innings in the sectional Saturday. SC holds the edge over Ripley, recording a 1-0 win last month.

Conversely, Hoover, Sissonville and Buffalo barely broke a sweat in sectional play.

The Huskies posted a 3-0 record in securing wins over Clay and Nicholas County (twice) by a combined 45-2 score. The Indians roared past Poca 19-3 and 8-3 in winning a doubleheader.

Hoover, which was No. 1 in AA for most of the season until Ritchie County passed it in last week's final poll, hosts rival Sissonville at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Region 4 semis. The two previous matchups were both one-run games won by the Huskies (3-2 and 2-1).

Buffalo looked the part of two-time defending titlist, disposing of Charleston Catholic 9-0 and 15-0. Bison hurler Chelsey Parkins seems to be in form after firing a no-hitter in the clinching win over the Fighting Irish and going 4 for 4 at the plate.

Buffalo, which concluded the year No. 1 in the Class A poll, hits the road for Wahama at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Region 4 semis. The Bison already own 11-0 and 11-2 decisions over the White Falcons.

Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkinson@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.


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