It was a painful season last year for the Logan High School softball team.
The Lady Cats had a tough stretch drive as their top three pitchers went down to injuries and illness and Logan finished with a 12-18 season, ending a run of four straight state tournament appearances.
With No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers Shana Hall and Aarron Ward missing most of the last few weeks of the regular season with tendonitis in their throwing arms and starter Hanna Sedlock, a DP and another pitcher out due to illness, the Lady Cats had to reshuffle their lineups.
Catcher Chastity Wiley and position player Antonia Hill were forced into mound duty — something they hadn’t done in many years.
It began to unravel for Logan as the Lady Cats lost nine out of their last 12 games and lost two straight games in the Class AAA sectional tourney — 15-6 and 14-7 to St. Albans.
Logan hopes to turn things around this season and challenge again for a state tournament berth.
The new season is scheduled to begin Tuesday night, weather permitting, as the Lady Cats are set to host county rival Chapmanville.
Logan loses a few seniors from last year’s team, including Hall and starting shortstop and leadoff batter Rachelle Toppings, who has taken her game to the University of Charleston.
Also lost was Hill, a steady player who played in both the infield and the outfield for Coach Randy Robinette.
Logan, though, returns plenty of talent this season and the LHS softball team looks to be very good and very deep.
The Lady Cats are ready to go.
“We found out last year that you can never have enough pitching,” Coach Robinette said. “We’ve got six kids who can throw this year. We are much improved over last year in all aspects. Last year, we were pretty green and didn’t have a whole lot of starters back at any of the positions. Now this year, we have experienced people at every spot. They are playing really hard and working hard. I think that we will be much improved.”
Ward, a junior, and Sedlock, a sophomore, are back as Logan’s top two starting pitchers. Three freshmen —Steph Curry, Kelsey Ward (no relation to Aarron Ward) and Stephanie Eplin — are also pressing for time within the circle. Sophomore Bekka Turner can also pitch as can Wiley, if needed.
“We have six pitchers and a seventh with Wiley. At the beginning of the season we will probably count on Aarron and Sedlock,” Robinette said.
At catcher, Logan has a good one with Wiley.
“Our starter, Wiley, is back and she’s done an outstanding job behind the plate in the preseason,” Robinette said. “She has really improved for us. Her defense is a whole lot better than last year. She’s been hitting the ball well and we look for her to have a real big year.”
Wiley will be backed up by freshman Allison Click.
At first base, the Lady Cats will likely rotate some players as Robinette calls it a “revolving door.” Kiana Hill, who started some at first last season, has the inside nod. Aarron Ward can also play first as will Sedlock.
“It will depend on who is pitching as to who plays at first,” Robinette said.
At second base, senior starter Shelby Hale is back again for Logan.
“She’s a two-year starter for us,” Robinette said of Hale. “She is really playing well this year. Her defense has really improved and her hitting has come around. She’s been a real surprise for us. She’s doing a fine job in the preseason.”
At shortstop, Logan has sophomores Taylor Napier and Ashton Spry and also Kelsey Ward. Napier also saw some time at third base last season as a freshman.
At third base, senior starter Sam Curry returns. Larra Elkins, a freshman, will be a backup at third.
“Sam Curry is back at third. She went down last year with an injured knee and that really hurt us,” Coach Robinette said. “She’s doing and outstanding job and she seems to be back from her injury. She’s in good shape, playing good defense and she’s hitting the ball real well. We look for her to have a big year for us.”
In the outfield, Logan returns senior starter Hannah Kolovich in right and junior starter Summer Collins in center.
“Hannah finished up real strong last year and has continued that into the preseason,” Robinette said. “She’s got a fine glove and a good arm. She’s really hit the ball well in preseason. We look for her to have a big year. Summer is back in center. She’s got good speed and has a good arm. She had several assists last year. We hope to use her speed a little bit more this year on offense and have a big year as well.”
In left field, senior Ciara Conley is pressing for playing time.
“She’s playing well. She’s a hard worker,” Robinette said. “She’s recovering from an ankle injury. She has improved.”
Aarron Ward could also see time in left field when not pitching. She saw a lot of action there in 2013. Sedlock can also play in left, as well as Spry.
“We have a little bit of depth this year, thankfully, and we are going to be able to move some people around depending on the situation and depending on who is pitching,” Robinette said. “But nothing now is settled in left field. It’s a big battle.”
Contending for playing time in the outfield are: sophomore Brooklyn Queen; freshman Mahoghani Patton; freshman Marki Lester; freshman Hannah Vance; freshman Elyssa Vance; and Montana Ward, a sophomore. Eplin and Turner have also been working out in the outfield during the preseason.
“We have several freshmen and they have worked very very hard,” Robinette said. “There’s a lot of upside to our freshmen. They have added depth to our team. In the future, things look bright for these freshmen.”
Logan is slated to open tonight at home against Chapmanville but the game is in doubt due to expected poor weather. A high of 39 is in the forecast with a possibility of snow.
The Lady Cats then go to Lincoln County on Wednesday and to South Charleston on Thursday before hosting Point Pleasant on Friday at 5:30 p.m. The weather is expected to improve by Thursday and Friday.
“There might not be any softball for who knows how long,” Robinette said. “Tuesday and Wednesday doesn’t look very good. Thursday looks better.”
Logan always plays a difficult schedule.
This year is no different.
The Lady Cats have home-and-home series with sectional foes St. Albans and Nitro and also play a pair of games against 3A teams Lincoln County, Winfield, South Charleston and Point Pleasant.
Also, Logan has home-and-homes against county rivals Chapmanville and Man and two games against Class A Sherman and 2A squads Scott and Wyoming East. Late in the season, Logan hosts Pikeview in a doubleheader.
LHS also plays again in the Best of the Best tourney at Buffalo and the Lady Tigers Invitational at Chapmanville.
“It’s a murderer’s row,” Robinette said. “We’ve got everybody that we normally play. Plus, we added St. Albans and Nitro. It’s tough. Our team will be improved this year. They are working very hard and I’m real proud of them.”
The three-team sectional is slated to be played at Nitro High School beginning on May 6.
Robinette will be assisted again by Jason Davis, Lindsay Noe and Alice Hensley. Noe was Robinette’s starting catcher on Logan’s back-to-back Class AAA state championship teams of 2001 and 2002. He also led LHS to a state crown back in 1986.
Robinette was an assistant coach in Logan’s Class AA days from 2003-08 when LHS won a state Double-A title in 2006.
“We’re working hard and we’re trying to rebound from last year,” Robinette said. “We’re hoping that the injury bug does not bite us again.”
2014 Logan High School
March 25: Chapmanville, 5:30 p.m.
March 26: at Lincoln County, 5:30 p.m.
March 27: at South Charleston, 5:30 p.m.
March 28: Point Pleasant, 5:30 p.m.
March 29: at Scott, 1 p.m.
March 31: St. Albans, 6 p.m.
April 1: at Winfield, 5:30 p.m.
April 2: at Nitro, 6 p.m.
April 3: South Charleston, 5:30 p.m.
April 4: vs. Nicholas County (at Chapmanville tournament), 9 p.m.
April 5: vs. James Monroe (at Chapmanville tournament), 5 p.m.
April 5: vs. TBA at Chapmanville Tournament, TBA
April 7: at Man, 5:30 p.m.
April 8: at Sherman, 5:30 p.m.
April 9: Wyoming East, 5:30 p.m.
April 10: Winfield, 5:30 p.m.
April 11: at Point Pleasant, 5:30 p.m.
April 16: Nitro, 5:30 p.m.
April 17-19: at Best of the Best Tournament (at Buffalo), TBA.
April 21: at St. Albans, 5:30 p.m.
April 22: at George Washington, 5:30 p.m.
April 23: at Chapmanville, 5:30 p.m.
April 24: Lincoln County, 5:30 p.m.
April 25: Scott, 5:30 p.m.
April 26: Pikeview (DH), 1 p.m.
April 28: Man, 5:30 p.m.
April 29: Sherman, 5:30 p.m.
April 30: at Wyoming East, 5:30 p.m.