VIENNA — Sherman High's Autumn Thompson threw a shutout and belted a homerun to lead Sherman to an 8-0 win in the Class A Championship versus Wheeling Central at Jackson Park in Vienna.
Kaitlyn Jenkins mashed an RBI double over the head of a Lady Knights outfielder in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Sherman its first team championship in School history.
The Tide has individual championships, but none for team sports.
Sherman plated a run off of a wild pitch in the sixth as runner advanced to set up Jenkins' heroics.
"We're on top of that mountain, baby," exclaimed Sherman Coach Jim Henderson moments after the game ended. "I think we played as good as we could against good competition. We got our championship."
For the game defensively, Sherman made one stellar play after another to support Thompson and made only two errors over three tournament games.
Sherman (32-4) defeated Wheeling Central in game one and then Clay Battelle to reach the opportunity to win it all by winning one of two with their Ohio County foe.
In the first inning, leading off for Sherman, Thompson belted a waist-high fastball over the centerfield fence for the Lady Tide and giving them an early lead. After a single by Haylee Clendenin, Katlyn Jenkins doubled home her teammate and Sherman led, 3-0.
It was all that Thompson would need on the bump on this day.
"I knew when she was warming up that we were in good hands," said Henderson. "But then again, I feel that way every game we play. She's a fierce competitor and she puts us in a position to win with her refusal to give in to hitters."
Unofficially, the southpaw from Seth fanned 10 Lady Knight hitters and Wheeling Central didn't reach third base until the fifth inning.
Winners of the last three Class A titles, coach Buck Davidson's Wheeling Central team threw Madison LeMasters, who showed moments of sharpness but overall, the Lady Tide were not going to be denied with an aggressive, but disciplined approach at the plate.
"It was part of our plan, to be the aggressor," added Henderson. "You don't get to this point by being timid. You have to go get it and that is what our girls did. They weren't going to be denied."
It was the top of the Lady Tide order that did the most damage, but catcher Sydnee Ferrell notched an RBI on a sacrifice play but Amber Maloskey and Cloey Toney scored for Sherman.
Sherman received a scare late in the game when frosh sensation Hailea Skeens re-injured a troublesome hand that was hurt prior to the tournament.
Zoie Hess made smart plays at third base and charged balls with conviction while making multiple stops in the tourney. Chelsey Thompson had that same success.
Senior Cloey Toney got on base throughout the run and mashed a key homerun in game one that energized the team. Toney showed discipline at the plate throughout the state tournament and worked the counts versus quality pitchers.
Junior Taylor Elkins and freshman Jada Samuel will be major contributors in 2020 as they showed tremendous promise this season.
Sherman's star hurler said that beating Wheeling Central was special, as their history goes back to the 2017 Championship game where the Maroon Knights defeated Sherman for the crown.
"It is special," she said. "Back then, they knew what I was going to do. I've worked all through the winters to place different pitches and I came in knowing that I had to use all of my pitches and I had to locate them."
Thompson said that when her homerun left her bat, she knew in was a dinger.
"I didn't think we were going to start off like that but we were on her in the first game and when one of us hits, we all hit," she said.
Wheeling Central had trouble fielding some plays, like one fly ball that was slicing away from the fielder in the outfield, which plated a Sherman run.
Jenkins, who will graduate next week said that the feeling of being a champion wasn't one she wanted to relinquish.
"We've played together since we were little girls and this what we dreamed of," she said. "For the game to end the way it did with me at the plate was very special to me." Maggie Fahey and Peyton Knight notched hits off of Thompson for Wheeling Central.
Assistant coach Terry Dawn Williams, who is back-to-back CVN Coach of the year in basketball said that she was simply enjoying the moment. She experienced the state tournament in 1989 as a basketball player at the school, then Class AA. Williams has coached with Henderson for 21 of the 24 years of the programs existence.
"This is for every girl that ever played," she said. "This is big. I went up to Katlyn (Jenkins) before that last at-bat and told her that this is what you dream about. Runners on base with a chance to win it. I told her to go get it. I'm very emotional right now."
Sherman High school principal Todd Barnette, also a graduate was proud of his student-athletes.
"This team will go down in history with the legendary Zontini brothers at Sherman High School," he said. "They will be remembered for decades. I walked by a little girl a bit ago and I heard her say that girls can be champions, too. It really caught my ear. That just says it all."
Sophomore Amber Maloskey made several key defensive play in the tournament including a dazzling diving catch versus Wheeling Central in the opening round. She is arguably the best bunter on the team and often sacrifices to move runners around the bags.
"This is my second year here (state tournament) and we were confident that we knew how to get it done and we got it," she said. "We have to work really hard before next season but we have some really good players coming up and some that were freshman this year who will step up for us."
One of the most compelling stories on the team is that of Haylee Clendenin. The senior missed all of her junior season after she injured her back in an auto accident. Her road back to the field was a long one and she was very emotional about being on the field this season.
"It has been so amazing," she said. "I didn't know if I was going to be ready for this year. I had this huge brace on and I got it taken off right before practices started. I just jumped in 11 percent. I haven't had a single problem with my back and I thank God for that. The community has been behind us so much with the Facebook posts, the parades and all of the attention. It feels so good to give this right back to them and say thank you. It is more than a softball team, it is our whole community."
Sherman alumnus and decades-long coach Rick Saunders stood in the center of the diamond and soaked up the moment.
"This is for those little ones running around here to soak up and know that they can do and be anything they put their minds and hearts to," he said.
The Tide finished as the state runner up in football in 1975 (Class AA), in baseball (Class AA) in 1990 and in 2017 (Class A) softball.
Henderson, who was a member of the 1975 gridiron team along with Saunders said that it was good to get the monkey off of the back of the school and that the hardware would be in the trophy case on Monday at the school but for now, the team would enjoy it over the weekend.
"Hey, why would I keep it," he said. "It doesn't belong to me. It belongs to Sherman High school and this community that supports us so much."
Katlyn Jenkins, Hailea Skeens, Haylee Clendenin and Autumn Thompson were named to the all-tournament team. Other seniors on the squad include, Beth Eskew, Kerstin Russell, Kaylie Pettry and Taylor Snodgrass.
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @philipdperry.