VIENNA, W.Va. - Nicole Pierson remembers the lean days during her four years at Hurricane.
That's why the Redskins' first Class AAA state championship meant so much to so many at the Putnam County school.
Sophomore Courtney Rogers fired a five-hit shutout as Hurricane completed a three-game sweep at the double-elimination state tournament with a 5-0 decision over Wheeling Park Thursday. A crowd of several hundred, mostly clad in Hurricane red, ringed Field 3 at Jackson Park.
"This means everything to me,'' said Pierson, who went 2 for 3 and scored a run. "I've worked so hard my four years to get where we are now. Now that it's here I can't believe it's true. I'm so happy I'm trying to keep from crying.''
Hurricane won both of its games Wednesday, edging Park 2-1 and defeating Jefferson 11-4. Park, which upset No. 1 and defending state champion John Marshall in the Region 1 final, needed to hang two losses on the Redskins on Thursday to claim the title.
That was going to be difficult the way the Redskins were playing. Hurricane took the lead for good at 1-0 on sophomore Cassi Sargent's two-out, run-scoring triple. Rogers followed with another RBI single as Hurricane went ahead 2-0.
That was all the run support Rogers needed as she consistently hit her spots with her pitches, holding the Patriots to five singles. She struck out four and walked two.
Hurricane also turned in some nifty defensive plays, including two double plays, and did not commit an error.
"I think we played one of our best games of the season,'' said Rogers. "I knew I had to hit my spots and our defense would do the rest and we'd hit the ball. Since we made it [to states] we knew we had to win.''
Trailing 2-0 in the top of the fifth, Park had a runner on third with one out. Rogers, though, got the next batter on a fly ball to center that was too shallow to score the run and ended the threat with a strikeout.
Hurricane put some distance between Park in the bottom half of the fifth as Sargent and Rogers each doubled in a run for a 4-0 advantage. The Redskins added a run in the bottom of the sixth on an error.
The Patriots had runners on first and second with none out in the top of the seventh, but the Redskins turned their second double play as first baseman Maddie Hebb caught a liner then stepped on the bag. Hebb also caught a foul ball with her glove over the fence in the sixth.
After Park sophomore Morgan Karnell singled to put runners at first and third with two outs, Rogers fanned Patriots senior Kelly Albers swinging on a 2-2 count to end it.
Hurricane senior catcher Linzie Reynolds threw off her glove and mask and met Rogers halfway between the circle and home plate then jumped into her arms as both fell to the ground. The rest of the players from the field and dugout piled on as the celebration began in earnest. Some of the Redskins' players doused fifth-year coach Josh Caldwell, who has had quite a spring with the birth of his daughter, with ice water.