Paul AdkinsSports Editor
May 24, 2013
With the eliminations of the Logan and Man high school baseball teams this week in the regional tournament, the Man High School softball squad was the last team standing.
The Lady Billies, however, fell on Wednesday in the Class A state tournament in Vienna as the No. 9-ranked Lady Billies lost 5-2 to Wheeling Central.
Man finished 0-2 in the double elimination tourney, also losing 3-2 to Moorefield earlier in the day at Jackson Park.
The two defeats put a close to Logan County’s spring sports season as all softball, baseball and tennis teams have completed play.
The Lady Billies closed out the season 20-7. Man was making its first trip to the state tournament since 2010 when it was the Class A state runner-ups. The Lady Billies had won back-to-back state titles in 2008 and 2009.
Counting its last three trips to Vienna, Man was carrying a 9-2 record in state tournament games.
The Lady Billies also won a state softball title in 1983 and had another trip to state in 2000 when they were 1-2. Man has a 13-6 all-time record at the state tournament.
Wednesday evening’s elimination game advanced Wheeling Central to the second day of competition on Thursday. The Maroon Knights had been defeated 1-0 by two-time defending Class A state champs Buffalo on Wednesday morning.
Wheeling Central (22-9) plated its first run in the state tournament against Man with the help of an error by the Lady Billies in the top of the first inning.
Man then struck back in the bottom of the second with a bases loaded RBI single by Emilee Osborne which made it a 1-1 ballgame. The Lady Billies took the lead shortly after with a two-out single with the bases loaded by Kelly Grimmett.
Wheeling Central pitcher Sarah Henry then got out of the jam by getting senior catcher Summer Sword to ground out.
The Knights tied it 2-2 in the third as Zoni Zavolta walked and later scored on a Man error.
The score remained tied until the top of the sixth inning when Wheeling Central was able to plate three runs off Man senior pitcher Taylor Tomblin to take a 5-2 lead.
Wheeling Central pitcher Henry put her team up for good, 3-2, with an RBI single. Cassidy McCord then followed with a two-run single to make it a three-run margin.
The Lady Billies were then down to their last at-bats in the bottom of the seventh.
Man made it interesting as it loaded the bases, representing the potential game-tying runs. Grimmett got it started as she singled. Cari Blair and Madison Keffer also reached but Man was not able to score any runs as Henry got Tomblin to pop out to end the game.
Tomblin went all seven innings for Man, allowing five runs on eight hits. She struck out one and issued no walks. Henry went the distance for Wheeling Central, allowing two runs on eight hits with no walks. Tomblin pitched 14 innings for Man on Wednesday as she also went seven in the loss to Moorefield.
Allison Cook led the Maroon Knights at the plate as she was 2-for-3. McCord was 1-for-3 with two RBI.
Osborne led the Lady Billies as she was 2-for-3 with one RBI.
All three state championships were scheduled to be played in Vienna on Wednesday.
Buffalo was seeking its third straight Class A state crown. The Bison, which have won 19 straight, haven’t lost to a Class A team since an 11-9 setback at Wheeling Central on March 30.
Moorefield, which beat Man on Wednesday morning and was last year’s state runner-up, came into the state tourney ranked No. 3 in the state. The Yellow Jackets lost 1-0 to Buffalo on Wednesday night in the last first round contest.
With a pair of 1-0 wins Buffalo advanced itself to the Class A state final on Thursday. Wheeling Central and Moorefield, both 1-1 in state play, was set to face off against each other in Thursday morning’s elimination game for the right to meet the Bison in the championship round.
Man was given some breathing room when it was moved out of Buffalo’s region this year due to reclassification.
Wheeling Central has won nine state softball championships – the most titles of any team in any class. The last time the Maroon Knights played in the title game was 2011 when they lost to Buffalo.
With the two losses in the state tourney, the prep softball careers for Man seniors Tabby Ferguson, Sword, Tomblin, Osborne, Micayla Gibson and Rachael Griffith have come to a close. Sword has signed on to play at West Virginia State. Ferguson will play at WVU Tech next season.
In Class AA, Wayne (28-6) was looking for its second straight state title. The Pioneers won 4-1 over Ritchie County and 13-0 over James Monroe to reach Thursday afternoon’s state finals.
Wayne had advanced to state with regional tourney wins over Chapmanville Regional (4-1) and Sissonville (7-4).