What a difference a year makes.
One year ago this week, the Logan High School softball team was suffering through a losing season and ran out of pitchers.
With two of its top pitchers having arm injuries and another one out due to sickness, the Lady Cats limped into the Class AAA sectional tournament.
The result was not a good one as Logan lost 15-6 and 14-7 to St. Albans to close out the season with a 12-18 mark.
The sectional tourney loss ended Logan’s string of four straight section titles and four straight trips to the state tournament in Vienna.
But this year has been a big change.
Logan’s pitchers are back and healthy and the Lady Cats have turned it around. After Friday’s 8-3 regular season finale win over Chapmanville, Logan was sporting a more Logan-like 22-4 record and the state’s No. 2 ranking.
The Lady Cats, this time, go into the sectional tournament as the overwhelming favorite.
Double-elimination section play begins on Tuesday at Nitro High School as Logan is set to take on the loser of the Nitro-St. Albans game in the second contest of the evening. Nitro and St. Albans play each other first.
Both Nitro and St. Albans have had up and down seasons. Nitro enters the sectional with an 8-14 record.
Logan is 3-0 this season against the two teams as the Lady Cats swept St. Albans 4-3 and 10-4 in a home-and-home series. LHS played Nitro just once this year, resulting in 13-2 win. The second game was rained out.
The winners of the two games are then scheduled to meet in the sectional championship round on Wednesday at 6 p.m., also at Nitro.
With the 20-plus wins, morale has been high for the Lady Cats all season. Logan is coming off Tuesday’s 6-3 Senior Night win over Sherman, a loss at Wyoming East and Friday’s win over the Lady Tigers.
“Winning helps. Winning breed success,” Logan coach Randy Robinette said. “That’s what we are going to try to do — just keep winning. We’re in a much better situation this year as opposed to last year. We just have to go to Nitro and go play. We just have to go and play as we have this year. We can’t afford any innings like we had against Sherman in the third inning.”
Even with Logan’s favored status in the sectionals, Robinette said the Lady Cats still must come to play.
“We’ve played Nitro once and St. Albans twice,” he said. “We’ll be the top seed but we still have got to go over there and do it. We still have to go play. Toward the end of the season this year it’s been a long grind and sometimes your kids get tired. The sectional ought to pep them up a little bit. Hopefully, we’ll have a great showing in the sectional.”
Logan’s pitching, led by junior Aarron Ward and sophomore Hana Sedlock, has been outstanding this season. Freshmen Kelsey Ward and Steph Curry have also seen mound time, giving the Lady Cats depth within the circle.
“Our pitching this year should help us with our experience,” Robinette said. “I expect us to go over and play well. Hopefully we will win the sectional championship.”
Logan is led by its senior class, consisting of: second baseman Shelby Hale; catcher Chastidy Wiley; third baseman Sam Curry; outfielder Hannah Kolovich; and outfielder Ciara Conley. Curry, however, injured her knee last week in a game against Lincoln County and her status is unknown for the post-season.
“Our senior group has provided us leadership and everyone has followed and that is what has made us a good ballclub this year,” Robinette said.
Other Logan players have also played well, including switch-hitting slap hitter Summer Collins, a junior. Collins starts in center field for Logan and covers a lot of ground with her speed. Kolovich, in right, has also played well defensively.
Sophomore Tayler Napier has been moved from shortstop to third to spell Curry, just as she did last year when Curry injured her knee. Kelsey Ward played at short in the Sherman game.
At first base, Logan’s primary starter is Kiana Hill, a junior.
Logan has been beaten just three times this year — twice to Lincoln County by 8-0 and 9-5 scores and once to Cabell Midland in a 3-1 loss.
Both Lincoln County and Cabell Midland are in Logan’s region and the Lady Cats could meet one of them down the road.
Logan is hoping to make it back to the state tournament for the first time in two years. Back in 2012, the Lady Cats went 1-2 in the state tourney at Vienna.
In 2011, Logan was also 1-2 at state with a 5-3 win over John Marshall and losses to Lincoln County (2-0) and John Marshall (5-2).
Back in 2010, the Lady Cats had a 2-2 showing at the state tournament with a 1-0 loss to St. Albans in the Class AAA state championship game.
The string of four straight state tourney appearances began in 2009 as the Lady Cats were 1-2.
Coach Robinette led Logan to a state championship in 1986 and two Class AAA state titles in 2001 and 2002. One of Robinette’s assistant coaches, Lindsay Noe, was the starting catcher on those two teams.
Logan then won a Class AA state crown in 2006 under former head coach Kevin Bates.
Robinette’s two other assistants are Jason Davis and Alice Hensley.
2014 Logan High School
Softball Schedule (22-4):
March 27: at South Charleston, W 3-2
March 28: Point Pleasant, W 1-0
March 31: St. Albans, W 4-3
April 1: at Winfield, W 6-3
April 2: at Nitro, W 13-2
April 4: vs. Nicholas County (at Chapmanville tournament), W 8-2
April 5: vs. James Monroe (at Chapmanville tournament), W 9-0
April 5: vs. Sissonville at Chapmanville Tournament, W 5-0
April 7: at Man, W 2-0
April 8: at Sherman, W 10-2
April 9: Wyoming East, W 8-2
April 10: Winfield, W 2-1
April 11: at Point Pleasant, W 5-4
April 18: vs. Shady Spring at Best of the Best Tournament (at Buffalo), W 14-0
April 18: vs. Winfield at Best of the Best Tournament (at Buffalo), W 8-7
April 19: vs. Cabell Midland at Best of the Best Tournament (at Buffalo), L 1-3
April 19: vs. Lincoln County at Best of the Best Tournament (at Buffalo), L 0-8
April 21: at St. Albans, W 10-4
April 22: at George Washington, W 13-2
April 23: at Chapmanville, W 9-0
April 24: Lincoln County, L 5-9
April 26: Pikeview (DH), W 3-2, W 10-0
April 29: Sherman, W 6-3
April 30: at Wyoming East, L 3-4
May 2: Chapmanville, W 8-3
May 6: Sectionals at Nitro, TBA
May 7: Sectionals at Nitro, TBA