CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Herbert Hoover had a wake-up call last year. No, make that a five-alarm fire.
The Huskies entered last year's Class AA regional final against Wayne brimming with confidence after defeating the Pioneers twice during the regular season. Wayne pulled the postseason rug out from under Hoover, eking out a 4-3 win that ended the Huskies' 14-game winning streak and sent them home again without a state tournament appearance for the seventh consecutive season.
"They put it to us,'' said Hoover senior catcher Damia Mogielski after Friday's 4-0 home win over Chapmanville. "They outplayed us. It was just a shock, a slap in the face that we should always play our best and never give up. That's what we did; we gave up. It hit us hard. We really want to get it done this year. It's [the seniors] last chance."
"It was a tough few days at school afterwards," added Hoover sophomore pitcher Allison Rager. "Tough getting back on the field."
Hoover has a renewed focus and spirit after getting burned by Wayne, which went on to capture the state championship. The Huskies opened their season with a 2-1 victory over the Pioneers, casting aside - at least temporarily - the demon that haunted them until a new year began.
"It puts more fire in us,'' Mogielski said.
"Every time we think about [the loss to Wayne in the regional finals] we try to work harder,'' added Hoover senior first baseman Amber Oaks. "We still have a lot of work to accomplish, though. We've worked all offseason, and we're working harder this season.''
The Huskies took extra steps to make amends for last year's shortcomings.
"I know many of us played travel ball, a few people are going to hitting coaches and coming out here as often as they can to get on the field,'' said Mogielski. "I think [Hoover coach] Missy [Smith] is not going to complain about us right now.''