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Young Lady Tigers will be tested this season

By Paul Adkins Sports Editor

March 23, 2014

CHAPMANVILLE — It’s going to be a short Senior Night this season for the Chapmanville Regional High School softball team.


The Lady Tigers have only one senior.


Lauryn Easterling.


The Chapmanville softball team will be young again this season but 34th-year head coach Ronnie Ooten said he hopes his Lady Tigers can grow up fast.


Chapmanville suffered an uncharacteristic sub .500 season last year as the Lady Tigers finished 15-17 and fell for the second straight year to Wayne in the Class AA regional semifinal. Wayne went on to win its second state championship in a row.


Chapmanville, which has five state championships in its history (1999,2004, 2007, 2009 and 2010) last played in the state tournament in 2011, going 1-2.


The Lady Tigers hope to turn things around this spring. CRHS showed some signs of life late last season by winning two games to one over Scott to claim the Class AA sectional championship.


Chapmanville was scheduled to open the season on Friday at home against Tolsia.


Ooten said the Lady Tigers have their work cut out again this spring.


“It could be rough again in my opinion,” he said. “We’re going to be young pitching-wise. We just have one senior. Our schedule is tough again but if the kids can pull together, we’ll be OK. They are working hard. I love their work ethic.”


Chapmanville lost both of its top pitchers from last year, including Talya Berry and Emma Paris, as both graduated. Berry went 14-14 within the circle last season and hit .379 with two homers and 19 RBI.


Also lost to graduation were left fielder Brandi Broom (.205) and catcher Hanna Wooten (.361, two HRs, 19 RBI and 15 stolen bases).


Ooten said freshman Faith Bell has the inside nod to be Chapmanville’s No. 1 hurler this season. Cydnee Lambert, Shian Meeks and Samarah Hurst are also expected to see time within the circle.


“All of them work and they want to be better,” Ooten said of his pitchers. “Cydnee has some leg problems, so it’s hard for her to pitch. Bell is a ninth-grader and she’s working really hard. She’ll be a good one because she works at it. I’ve had Jaci Collins work with her a little bit and hopefully that will continue. We have some real good pitchers coming up, too, and the McCann girl coming from Harts is going to be a dandy.”


Behind the plate, Savannah Wiley replaces Wooten.


“Hanna came down and talked to us the other day and she put her catcher’s gear on and I joked to her that she should keep it on,” Ooten quipped. “We’re going to miss kids like that. We’re going to miss Talya, too. She was a hard worker and she put it together in her senior year. She pitched well. We’ve got some good kids back. Wiley will be our catcher.”


Easterling will most likely start at first base for the Lady Tigers. She split time at first and second last season and hit .250 with 12 stolen bases.


“She played first a lot last year,” Ooten said. “She wants to play second but she has accepted the first base role.”


Hope Kirk is the probable starter at second base.


“She’s a good field leader. She talks a lot and knows the game very well,” Ooten said of Kirk. “Tommy (Kirk) did a good job of teaching her the game.”


Meeks, a sophomore, is back as Chapmanville’s starting shortstop. Last season she hit .219 with 12 RBI and nine stolen bases.


Hurst, a junior, returns as Chapmanville’s starting third baseman. She batted .167 with a home run in 2013.


Lambert (.188, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 11 SB) seems to have the inside track in left field.


Junior Caitlin Elkins (.215, 15 SB) is Chapmanville’s likely centerfielder.


Addy Lucas is penciled in as the starter in right field.


“She has worked really hard and we are giving her a shot,” Ooten said of Lucas. “We have some really good young kids.”


Ooten said Chapmanville will be challenged this season but who knows?


“Who would have thought that we could have put it together at the end of last year?” he said. “We won the sectional title last year. The kids played well and that is what I expect out of the kids this year by the time of sectional play. We might win it and we might not. We might win it all. You just can never tell.”


The Lady Tigers have a tough schedule just as they do each and every season.


Chapmanville has a home-and-home series this season against the rival Scott Lady Hawks. CRHS will also host Scott in the best-of-three sectional tourney in early May. There’s also home-and-homes with Wayne, Herbert Hoover and Sissonville which are expected to be among the best in the Cardinal Conference.


The Lady Tigers also play home-and-home series against both county rivals Logan and Man. Logan, like Chapmanville, struggled last season with a losing record at 12-18. Man advanced to the Class A state tournament in Vienna last year.


Chapmanville and Man will renew its county rivalry. The Lady Tigers and Lady Billies have not played each other much over the course of the last six or seven seasons.


“We haven’t played them much in the last few years,” Ooten said of Man. “We talked to (Man coach) Randy (Epperly) at the end of last year and we thought that we should play. They are going to have a real good team again. We play Logan all the time, so it will be good to play everyone in the county and see where it falls. They had a rough year last year like us and they were young.”


In addition, CRHS has non-conference series with 3A Lincoln County and Class A Sherman as well this season.


Chapmanville lost to Wayne 4-1 in last year’s regionals. The Lady Tigers toppled Scott, 6-5, in the sectional championship game.


One other highlight to the season is Chapmanville’s annual Lady Tigers Invitational. This year, 18 teams are slated to take part in the tourney, which is set to run April 3-5. All three diamonds in Chapmanville will be used — Ronnie Ooten Field at CRHS and the two softball fields at Chapmanville Middle School.


The host Lady Tigers are set to play Sherman, James Monroe, Pikeview and Richwood in the pool play event. Nicholas County, Ritchie County and Logan are three other teams in the tourney.


“Some of the best in the state will be in the tournament,” Ooten said.


Ooten said he looks for two-time defending state champion Wayne to be good again in the Cardinal Conference. The Lady Pioneers are going for three in a row this spring.


“Wayne’s going to be tough again this year. They have won two in a row,” Ooten said. “They are going to be real tough and so is Sissonville and Herbert Hoover. Everybody in this conference is going to be pretty good. Even Tolsia and Mingo Central are coming along. Those girls are working hard to get better.”


Ooten said he expects another battle with Scott in the sectional.


“It’s us and Scott again butting heads with each other,” Ooten said. “As I have said in the past these are two good teams and both of us should be going somewhere but the way it is one of us cannot advance.”


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2014 Chapmanville Regional


High School Softball Schedule:


March 21: Tolsia, 5:30 p.m.


March 24: at Sissonville, 5:30 p.m.


March 25: at Logan, 5:30 p.m.


March 26: Mingo Central, 5:30 p.m.


March 28: Herbert Hoover, 5:30 p.m.


March 31: Man, 5:30 p.m.


April 1: at Mingo Central, 5:30 p.m.


April 3: Sherman (Lady Tigers Invitational), 9 p.m.


April 4: James Monroe (Lady Tigers Invitational), 5 p.m.


April 5: Pikeview (Lady Tigers Invitational), 1 p.m.


April 5: Richwood (Lady Tigers Invitational), 5 p.m.


April 7: at Wayne, 5:30 p.m.


April 8: Scott, 5:30 p.m.


April 10: at Poca, 6 p.m.


April 11: Sherman, 5:30 p.m.


April 14: at Lincoln County, 5:30 p.m.


April 15: at Scott, 5:30 p.m.


April 16: Wayne, 5:30 p.m.


April 17: at Tolsia, 5:30 p.m.


April 18-19: at Best of the Best Tournament at Buffalo, TBA


April 21: at Man, 5:30 p.m.


April 22: Sissonville, 5:30 p.m.


April 23: Logan, 5:30 p.m.


April 24: at Herbert Hoover, 5:30 p.m.


April 28: at Sherman, 5:30 p.m.


April 30: Poca, 6 p.m.


May 1: Lincoln County, 5:30 p.m.