Back-to-back AA softball titles for Wayne
VIENNA, W.Va. -- Wayne made it two in a row Thursday afternoon.
Jessica Rowe tossed a two-hitter and struck out eight to lead the defending state champion Pioneers past James Monroe 5-1 in the Class AA softball state championship game on Field 2 at Jackson Park.
Third-ranked Wayne (29-6) romped through its division with a 5-1 win over No. 1 Ritchie County and a 14-1 pummeling of the Mavericks on Wednesday.
"It's a little more relaxing,'' Pioneers coach Tish Smith said of the second title. "Last year was a little nerve-wracking, ulcers and all that stuff. It doesn't mean any less.''
Wayne fell behind 1-0 after the top of the first inning as James Monroe took advantage of an error. The Pioneers restored order in the bottom of the frame, plating two runs, and never trailed again. The Mavericks loaded the bases in the top of the seventh with two outs, but Rowe induced a groundout to end it.
Kasey Endicott belted a solo home run and drove in two runs for the Pioneers while Jacey Parson and Allie Maynard each had an RBI. Parsons, Rowe, Jessica Watts and Emily Thompson were all-tournament selections.
James Monroe (25-7), which was making its first appearance at states in 16 years, pulled the biggest upset of the tournament when it shaded Ritchie 2-1 in eight innings in Thursday's elimination round. The Mavericks also rebounded psychologically from the shelling they took from Wayne on Wednesday night in four innings, in which coach Greg Wickline decided to forfeit after the game was halted because of lightning and facing an early Thursday morning game.
James Monroe pitcher Mikayla Wickline, who fanned 17 against Petersburg on Wednesday and whiffed 14 Rebels on Thursday, struck out eight against Wayne in the title round. Laine Shiflett drove in the lone run for the Mavericks, and Mikayla Wickline, Shiflett and Samantha Ferguson made the all-tournament team.
"I wished we could have given them a little bit better game,'' Greg Wickline said. "[Our players] could have given up when it was 4-1. A couple of runs right there [in the seventh] and who knows what might have happened?''
Wayne is in good position to chase a three-peat with Rowe returning, but must find replacements for senior starters Jessica Watts (shortstop) and Tasha Maynard (first baseman).
"I'm sure that'll be the goal they set,'' said Smith of going for three in a row. "Let's hope maybe they'll work hard enough to achieve it. It's a great group. We've got some great players ready to take their place. We're excited.''
Here's a capsule look at Thursday's elimination games:
Kristen Slater gave No. 6 Park the lead for good with a one-out, run-scoring single and she scored later on an error. Patriots reliever Carly Greer set down the unranked Cougars in order in the bottom of the seventh.
Kelsi Johnson belted a leadoff home run in the sixth to knot the game at 3-3 for the Patriots. Jefferson seized a 3-2 edge in the bottom of the fourth on Alexandria Witt's two-run round-tripper.
Shiflett's run-scoring fielder's choice in the eighth proved the difference for James Monroe. Mikayla Wickline, who surrendered just one hit and whiffed 14, then retired No. 1 Ritchie County in order in the bottom of the frame, fanning the first two batters.
Shiflett finished 2 for 4 and Samantha Ferguson knocked in a run for the Mavericks. Leah Kuhn doubled in a run for the Rebels to knot it up at 1-all in the top of the fifth. Freshman Kenna Delancey struck out eight in seven innings for Ritchie.
Moorefield's Beth Cook reached on an error to lead off the seventh then took second on a wild pitch. Michaela Regester popped out to third before Riggleman delivered the winning blow.
The Maroon Knights tied it a 6-all in the top of the seventh on Sydney Bennington's RBI single and Sarah Henry's sacrifice fly. Central left a runner on third when Jordyn Smith grounded out.
Riggleman finished 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs for the Yellow Jackets while Shayna Vetter lashed two hits and knocked in two runs and McKenzie Weese drove in a pair.
Vanessa Saseen had two RBIs for Central and Allie Cook went 4 for 4.