CHAPMANVILLE — In less than a week, the Chapmanville Regional High School softball team will return to the diamond.
When Chapmanville takes to the field for its 2021 opener on April 12 at Corridor G rival Scott it will be two years since the Lady Tigers have played a game after the entire 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chapmanville hasn’t played a game since the 2019 sectionals when CRHS lost a 10-9 extra inning thriller at Lincoln County in the Class AA sectional finals, blowing a 9-6 late-inning lead and closing out the season with a 17-13 record.
The 2019 season ended a remarkable run by the Lady Tigers which had gone 80-17 the previous three years. CRHS had won the Class AA state title in 2016 and were state runners-up in 2017 and 2018.
Last year was a wash as the entire season was canceled. Senior players KK Davis; Jenna Barker; Cameron Dodrill; Tonya McCormick; and Faith Toppins, a transfer from Lincoln County, were not able to play.
Chapmanville has some players back from the 2019 team and a crop of younger players and hope to field a competitive team this spring.
“It feels good to hopefully get to play,” said Chapmanville coach Ronnie Ooten, now in his 40th season. “But we’ve had one scrimmage with Nicholas County already canceled due to COVID. We are supposed to scrimmage on Monday and we hope we can play. We are going to be a young team in spots and we’ve got some pretty good returnees. We’ll be OK. We will be competitive. I don’t think we’ll be as potent as we have been but starting out we won’t be world-beaters.”
Sitting out last season was rough, Ooten said.
“This COVID has set athletics back years,” he said. “Kids have not been in school and they are not used to getting up early in the morning and walking the halls. It’s been an ordeal getting them in shape. They are not used to it.”
Every team in the state will be young.
Not only will Chapmanville have first-year freshmen coming into the program, they will also have first-year sophomores who have never played at the varsity level.
“Everyone will be in the same boat,” Ooten said. “Even some of the older kids that did not get to play travel ball will have the same problem. It’s like starting all over again. We’re going to be young in spots and we’ll be moving some kids around. We’ll have to wait and see.”
The good news is that top pitcher Sierra Cook is back for her senior season.
Cook had a 8-6 record on the mound for the Lady Tigers with a 2.04 ERA in 2019. She had 133 strikeouts, just 20 walks and had one save. She was also voted Class AA Special Honorable Mention All-State and was also a First-Team All-Conference pick.
“She wasn’t going to come out last year,” Ooten said. “She was worn out and tired. She had been playing ever since she was 5 or 6 years old and never had a break. She came out last spring and had worked real hard and hard a great attitude. Sierra is a dandy. She’s working hard to get there but she’s not yet ready to go an entire game. We couldn’t work with them during the off-season. Brad Napier had said that about basketball in that they didn’t have the summer time to work with the kids. It’s the same with our kids.”
Sophomores Jocelyn Arthur and Latosha Perry are the Lady Tigers’ other pitchers.
At catcher, freshman Erica Sigmon has the inside track to start.
Down at first base, Ooten says it’s a “toss-up,” but sophomore Erin Adkins could have the nod.
Baylee Belcher, a junior, is likely to play at second base. A utility player, she can also play first base or down on the hot corner at third.
“She can play anywhere,” Ooten said of Belcher. “She can also pitch. She used to pitch years ago.”
At shortstop, sophomore Emma Muncy is Chapmanville’s likely starter. Claire Dingess, a senior, can also play there.
At third base, junior Ashleigh Mahon has the nod. Mahon was Chapmanville’s starting catcher two years ago as a freshman and had a big season, hitting .301 with three home runs and sporting a .534 slugging percentage en route to being named Second-Team All-Cardinal Conference.
“We’re moving her to third base,” Ooten said of Mahon. “She’s a super athlete and a 110 percent player. I wish we had 12 of her.”
In the outfield, junior Mikayla Tomblin has the nod in left. Senior Sidnee Varney is in center and senior Mattison Williams is in right.
Rounding out the roster are: juniors Jayanna Dingess, Sydney Belcher and Jamison Terry; sophomores Mikayla Vance, Makayla Crum, Erin Adkins and Emily Adkins; senior Sarah Carrier; and freshman Riley Lucas.
Katlin Moore and pitcher Haley Adkins, two players from the 2019 squad, are not with the team this year. Ooten said Moore is taking on-line classes and Adkins decided not to play.
The Lady Tigers are set to embark on a challenging 28-game schedule.
Several big games are on the slate, including a home-and-away series against Cardinal Conference team Herbert Hoover, the three-time defending Class AA state champions from 2017-19. The Huskies beat Chapmanville in the 2017 and 2018 state championship games.
CRHS also has a home-and-away series against county rivals Logan and Man and a single game against 2019 Class A state champion Sherman.
In addition, a home-and-away series against now Class AAA Lincoln County also highlights the schedule as well as conference matchups against league contenders Winfield, Wayne, Sissonville and Nitro.
Chapmanville’s other non-conference games are a home-and-away series against Class A Tug Valley and a single contest against 2A Wyoming East.
CRHS is set to host its own Lady Tigers Invitational Tournament, May 6-8.
Chapmanville has a new Class AA sectional this year with new team Wayne, along with holdovers Logan, Scott and Mingo Central.
Man and Lincoln County, which were in the six-team Class AA sectional the last four years, have moved to Class A and Class AAA respectively.
Wayne, which won the Class AA state championship in 2012 and 2013, usually has a strong softball tradition. The Lady Tigers had met the Pioneers several times in past years in the regional tournament.
The season starts and ends roughly a month later than normal.
It comes to a close June 22-23 with the state tournament at South Charleston’s turfed and mountaintop Little Creek Park.
Last year was also to be the first time the state tourney was to be held at South Charleston and on turf.
The state tournament had been held the last 16 years at Jackson Memorial Park in Vienna.
After years of sometimes poor field conditions on the three grass fields, a bevvy of complaints and perceived lack of field management, the 2019 state tournament was the last one Vienna played host.
Vienna had been the site of eight state championships from Logan County teams: Chapmanville (2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2016); Man (2008 and 2009) and Logan (2006).
2021 Chapmanville Regional High School
April 12: *at Scott, 5:30 p.m.
April 13: Mingo Central, 5:30 p.m.
April 14: *at Winfield, 5:30 p.m.
April 15: *at Poca, 6 p.m.
April 16: *Herbert Hoover, 5:30 p.m.
April 20: *Sissonville, 5:30 p.m.
April 21: *Logan, 5:30 p.m.
April 22: at Tug Valley, 5:30 p.m.
April 23: at Sherman, 5:30 p.m.
April 26: Lincoln County, 5:30 p.m.
April 27: at Man, 5:30 p.m.
April 28: *Winfield, 5:30 p.m.
April 29: *Nitro, 5:30 p.m.
April 30: *Wayne, 5:30 p.m.
May 3: at Mingo Central, 5:30 p.m.
May 6-8: Chapmanville Invitational Tournament, TBA
May 10: Man, 5:30 p.m.
May 11: *at Wayne, 5:30 p.m.
May 13: Tug Valley, 5:30 p.m.
May 18: at Lincoln County, 5:30 p.m.
May 19: *at Nitro, 5:30 p.m.
May 20: *Scott, 5:30 p.m.
May 21: at Wyoming East, 5:30 p.m.
May 24: *at Logan, 5:30 p.m.
May 25: *at Herbert Hoover, 5:30 p.m.
May 27: *at Sissonville, 5:30 p.m.
*Cardinal Conference game