All eyes will be on the Man High School softball team.
As the 2010 girls’ softball season gets underway the Lady Billies are riding a 41-game winning streak and are the two-time defending Class A state champs.
Last season, led by all-state pitcher and State Player of the Year runner-up Marlena Frye, Man went 23-0 and won the Class A state championship.
Man defeated Cameron, 17-9, in the Class A title game at Vienna and also recorded wins over Fayetteville (10-0) and Cameron (1-0) in the state tourney.
The Lady Billies were simply dominating in 2009 as the team had 18 shutout wins out of the 23 total games. Man had only given up three runs all season heading into the finals in which Cameron put up nine runs in the championship game.
To find Man’s last loss you would have to go back two years to the 2008 season. The Lady Billies’ last defeat was a 2-0 decision at home to county rival Logan. Man also lost 2-1 at Chapmanville in the Chapmanville tourney and fell 2-1 at Scott.
The Lady Billies, though, went 24-3 in ‘08 and went on to beat Wheeling Central, 7-3, in the Class A state title game.
Led by Frye, Man has simply been brilliant.
In her three-year career so far, Frye, a senior, has a 60-5 record with 30 no-hitters and 50 shutout wins. She has won 40 games in a row and also has a .550 batting average at the plate with 25 home runs and an on-base percentage of .756.
Frye, who signed during the off-season with Division II West Virginia State, is 6-0 in state tourney games over the last two years and has allowed just one earned run to go along with her 81 strikeouts.
Last year’s state title by the Lady Billies was the third in their history with the other coming back in 1983.
Man rallied from 2-0 down to beat Cameron in last year’s rain-delayed state title game in Vienna.
Man graduates six seniors from last year’s team, including Mercedes Sharp, Malorie Keffer, Jacyln Dickerson, Loren Whited, Kaitlan Chapman and Rebecca Compton.
However, several other Lady Billies are back from last year’s team, including Frye, Paige Stacy, Tabby Johnston and Malorie Vance. In last year’s state championship game with Cameron, Stacy gave the Man crowd a charge as she ripped a grand slam. Johnston had two doubles and a single.
The Lady Billies’ quest for a three-peat is scheduled to begin March 20 at Van. Man then is set to play at Charleston Catholic on March 24, at Scott on March 27 and at home against Burch on March 29.
For the first time in two years, Man is scheduled to play county rival Chapmanville as the two meet on April 3 at 2 p.m. in the Chapmanville tourney.
Man also takes on Tolsia, Scott and 3A Riverside in the tournament.
The Lady Billies also play 3A county rival Logan twice this season on April 12 on the road and April 28 at home. Man beat Logan in both meetings last season.
In addition, Coach Randy Epperly’s Lady Billies are scheduled to play home-and-home series this season against 2A Scott and Sherman and also single games against 2A Herbert Hooover, Poca and Wyoming East.
Man also returns to the Best of the Best tourney April 8-10 at Buffalo.
The Lady Billies captured the Class A division championship last season at the tourney. Man beat Buffalo, 4-0, to claim the tournament title last season.
The sectional tourney is set for May 5.