HAMLIN - There's a changing of the guard in Class AA Region 4 Section 2.
That's because Lincoln County was able to rally to defeat the Chapmanville Regional High School softball team in a thrilling 10-9 win on Thursday night in the winner-take-all sectional championship game at the Lincoln County High School softball field at Hamlin.
Faced with a 9-6 deficit in the bottom of the sixth, the host Panthers scored six runs to take a 10-9 lead, then held off the Lady Tigers in the seventh.
Lincoln County (20-15) moves on to play Nitro in a best-of-three regional championship series beginning on Monday.
For Chapmanville, the Lady Tigers' season comes to a close at 17-13.
It's also the end of Chapmanville's reign.
The Lady Tigers had won the last four sectional championships, including the last two in the current super sectional format, and had reached the Class AA state championship game the last three years.
CRHS was the state champion in 2016 and were state runner-ups the last two years.
"We played good enough to win but we didn't," Chapmanville coach Ronnie Ooten said. "I thought we played well. We could have buried our heads when we got down but we battled back. We were up 9-6 with two outs but we couldn't get another out. They had a home run, double and a triple."
Lincoln County coach Tommy Barrett said it was a big win for his program, which had lost to Chapmanville last year in a winner-take-all sectional title game at Scott but had lost 14-0. This year would be different.
"Chapmanville is competitive every time you play them," Barrett said. "We have not won a section in the last four years. Since we've been in Double-A this is the first sectional that we won. Ronnie Ooten had his team prepared and they were prepared to play ball. It's been a dog fight every time we've played them."
The big blow for the Panthers in the six-run sixth was Shelby Browning's two-run homer to center off Chapmanville relief pitcher Sierra Cook which put LCHS ahead 10-9. It proved to be the game winner.
Natalie Fout had put Lincoln County to within 9-7 on an RBI double to center. Koree Roberts then laced an RBI triple which bounced to the center field fence as the deficit was cut to 9-8. Browning's homer then put the Panthers up for good.
"That's a good team there. They don't quit," Ooten said. "If you think they are going to quit with a three-run deficit you are crazy."
Added Barrett: "We stuck together tonight and strung hits together. We're still very young. We have three seniors and one junior on the team. These kids know how to win and they want to win."
Tabitha Adkins was Chapmanville's starting pitcher but was lifted in the second inning as Cook took over.
Cook, however, experienced asthma-like symptoms and was taken out of the game following the Roberts homer and a double by Amber Roberts. Adkins came back in to get the final out in the sixth.
"She didn't tell me she was about to faint," Ooten said of Cook. "We stayed with her probably about two to three batters too long."
Lincoln County pitcher Sydney Maynard got CRHS out in order in the seventh to get the win. She pitched the complete game win despite surrendering nine runs on 15 hits.
Jenna Barker and Ashleigh Mahon were each 3-for-4 for Chapmanville. Cook was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Adkins was 3-for-4 with one run batted in. Baylee Belcher was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Bailey Parsons was 1-for-3 with one run batted in.
Katlin Moore had a three-run double for Chapmanville in the Lady Tigers' six-run sixth which put CRHS up 9-6. Earlier in the inning, Cook, Parsons and Belcher had RBI singles as Chapmanville pounded Maynard.
Chapmanville led 1-0 with a run in the second then LCHS plated five in the last half of the frame.
Cook and Adkins had RBI singles for the Lady Tigers in the third as Chapmanville led 5-3.
In the fourth, Koree Roberts hit a solo homer to give Lincoln County a 6-3 lead.
Lizz White, Koree Roberts and Amber Roberts all had two hits each.
Thursday's game was the final prep contest for Chapmanville senior players Shea Pridemore, Parsons, Amber Richards, Adkins and Casey Butcher.
Paul Adkins is the sports editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.