CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Confidence is key this time of year especially, when everything in high school softball comes down to one game the next two weeks.
First up today are the regional semifinals, with six Kanawha Valley squads vying for berths in next week's finals, where a state tournament berth will be on the line.
South Charleston (19-9) hosts No. 10 Ripley (16-6) at 6 p.m. in Class AAA Region 3 while No. 8 St. Albans (27-4) visits Point Pleasant (17-7) at 6 p.m. and No. 3 Hurricane hosts No. 2 Cabell Midland at 6 p.m. in Region 4.
In AA, No. 2 Herbert Hoover (23-3) hosts Sissonville (15-12) at 6 p.m. in Region 4, and in Class A, two-time defending state champion Buffalo (28-4) visits Wahama (20-11) at 6 p.m. in Region 4. (See Page 2B for regional pairings.)
No team among the Valley's half dozen probably has as much momentum as Buffalo, which enters on a 16-game winning streak.
"The kids are very confident in what they're doing,'' said coach Darrell Moore, who also guided the Bison to state titles in 2002 and 2004. "They're peaking. It's a one-and-done deal and you play your best or you go home. They understand that. It all boils down to what you do this game. The regular season just fine-tunes you.''
Buffalo has already defeated Wahama twice this season (11-0 and 11-2) in late March and early April.
"They know Wahama's ready for us,'' Moore said of his players' attitude. "The scores didn't indicate the type of games [they were]. They were right in there until the fourth or fifth inning in both games.''
Buffalo leans heavily on junior Chelsey Parkins, who has posted a 14-1 record with a 0.94 earned run average and 139 strikeouts in 89 innings. She also carries a potent bat, hitting .551 with 16 doubles, seven triples, 48 RBIs and 28 stolen bases.
St. Albans will need the savvy from its senior battery of pitcher Ali Haynes and catcher Mariah Caudill when it takes on Point Pleasant for the first time this season in an unfamiliar setting. Haynes and Caudill have been a part of 106 wins and won a state championship as freshmen.
"Don't know exactly what we'll be getting into,'' said SA coach Greg Garber. "[Point Pleasant has] to be pretty good since they split with Chapmanville [and] they only lost to John Marshall 3-2, and John Marshall is defending state champs.