Don’t mention 2009, 2002 either.
And don’t even talk about 2007 or 2008.
Don’t even go there.
After 10 years away from the state baseball tournament and no shortages of bad post-season memories, the tradition-rich Chapmanville Tigers are finally back in Charleston.
Chapmanville Regional (32-3), ranked No. 1 in the state in Class AA, is slated to play Braxton County (18-7) on Friday at 7 p.m., in one of the two Double-A semifinals at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park. A win would put the Tigers in Saturday’s state finals at 5 p.m. against either Magnolia or Wyoming East.
A lot has happened in 10 years since the Tigers last made it to the state tournament.
The United States suffered a devastating terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, just three months after the Tigers played Winfield in the state tourney in early June 2001 at the old Watt Powell Park in Charleston.
We’ve had two wars, a financial meltdown and 10 World Series winners including the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, which haven’t tasted glory in around 100 years.
A decade is a long time and Chapmanville is glad to be back in the Big Dance.
“It feels really good,” Tigers’ coach Eric Ellis said. “It’s been awhile for us. We’ve had good teams, we’ve had bad teams and we’ve gone up against some teams that have beat us. This year, we finally found a way to persevere and get through that. The kids are excited and the community is excited. We’re looking forward to Friday night.”
Some of the past pain has gone away.
Last year, the Tigers blew a big lead and was upset 9-8 at Wayne in the regional semifinals. Chapmanville might have been good enough to win it all had it had the chance.
The Pioneers also bested Chapmanville in the 2002 and 2009 regional tourneys to keep the Tigers out of the season tourney.
Back in 2007, Chapmanville was 25-4, ranked No. 1 in the state and possibly headed to the state championship.
It would have been an ironic 10-year cycle as the Tigers had won Class AA state crowns 10 years before in 1997 and then 10 years before that in 1987.
Chapmanville took a one game to none lead on rival Logan in the ‘07 best-of-three sectional tourney at the new Ted Ellis Field, which was just opened the week before. The Tigers had ripped the Wildcats 11-2 but then collapsed, losing 10-1 and 7-4 to Logan to see their season come to an end.
The last game was most painful as the Josh Mahaffey and Josh Motto-led Tigers committed nine team errors. “It helps to make it back,” Ellis said, when asked about the pitfalls of the past. “I look back to that particular team in 2007. We were ranked number one in the state that year. We got into the final game of the sectional tournament that year and had nine errors. When you have nine errors in a game you aren’t going to beat anybody like that. Logan was a really good team that year and when you make that many mistakes you aren’t going to beat anybody. We did that day.”
Then in the following year in 2008 the same pattern emerged again. Chapmanville destroyed Logan 11-0 on its home field to take a 1-0 lead in the sectional tourney. The Wildcats then bounced back to take the title with 11-1 and 8-5 wins over Chapmanville. Logan would then go on to defeat Point Pleasant in the state championship game.
Not this year, though.
Not this time.
The Tigers had a sectional scare in the first game at Scott as CRHS trailed 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jordan Banks then stepped up and drilled a three-run homer to lead the Tigers to a 4-3 win.
It’s been smooth sailing ever since as Chapmanville downed Scott, 12-2, for the sectional title, then ripped Wayne (14-6) and Sissonville (10-1) in the regional tourney.
“Fortunately with these team the first game of the sectional tournament tested us right off the bat,” Ellis said. “We were one out from losing in the first game and we found a way to win that one. Since then we’ve kind of put the petal to the metal. That kind of woke them up and made us think, ‘Hey, we have to get after it every day and get after it. It’s tournament time.’ They’ve gone out and have taken it to everyone since that point.”
Many of Chapmanville’s standouts have been regulars in the lineup since the 9th grade.
“You look at our juniors and our seniors and there’s eight or 10 kids there who have played a lot of baseball,” Ellis said. “Several of them have started for three years now. You can tell. They’ve played well all through the season and the tournaments. When a situation comes up they rise up and get out of it with minimal damage. They’ve given us veteran leadership because they have played so much. We don’t get rattled too easily now. It seems like someone different steps up and gets a big hit for us. It might be at the bottom of the order one game and the top of the order the next and the middle of the order in another game. It’s been like that all season. That’s probably been the reason we have won 32 ballgames this year.”