College softball: Eggleston an unlikely hero for State
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Before the beginning of the season, West Virginia State softball Coach Bob Allen indicated he had two potential pitcher of the year candidates in seniors and 2012 All-West Virginia Conference hurlers Kelsey Lorraine and Sara Pelegreen.
Little did Allen know, though, that in the winner-take-all WVC tournament championship game against Fairmont State on Saturday afternoon that a freshman pitcher would be on the mound in the biggest game of the season.
Anna Eggleston pitched a complete-game gem, allowing just one unearned run while scattering five hits, in guiding State (45-13) to a 3-1 victory over the Falcons in Vienna to claim the WVC title, earning most valuable player honors in the process.
The Yellow Jackets claimed the league's final championship. Nine of the WVC schools will join three others to form the Mountain East Conference, beginning play in 2013. The league title earns State at berth in the regional tournament.
"Our goal was to win the last conference championship," Allen said. "It's fantastic. Nobody can take it away from us. We got beat by four points for the regular season championship (to Fairmont St). These kids were just so motivated."
Allen was proud of Eggleston coming up big the way she did in a pressure-filled situation.
"Our freshman, Anna, came up big all tournament," Allen said. "If anyone deserved MVP, it was her. We felt it was better to go with Anna and it turned out to be a good decision."
Eggleston couldn't have imagined things would have turned out the way they did for her, winning tournament MVP.
"It never even crossed my mind," Eggleston said. "I just knew we needed to win, we were going to win, that's it. I didn't even think that could be a possibility. It was just a great feeling."
The decision was made to pitch Eggleston after Lorraine recently developed pain in her pitching arm. Fairmont State forced a championship game in the double-elimination tournament after defeating State 4-1 in Saturday's first game.
During the regular season, Lorraine and Pelegreen started 43 of State's 53 games. Eggleston, along with junior Jade Weinkauf, each started only five games each. However, during the tournament, Eggleston was the pitcher of record in three of State's four wins.
"It broke her heart," Allen said of Lorraine not being to pitch in the title game. "Kelsey's arm has been giving her problems. She was having trouble getting real good snap on the ball."
Lorraine said she was spent by tournament's end.
"It's been real tough the last few days for me mentally," said Lorraine, who played left field for the first time since her freshman season. "But I have a lot of faith in my team, especially our other senior pitcher (Pelegreen) and for this freshman pitcher (Eggleston) to come in here and do amazing. I was so very impressed with her to get us this title."
Lorraine could remain in left field for the regionals.
"When we go to regionals, there is a good chance Kelsey will be playing left field," Allen said. "It doesn't hurt her to throw overhand, it's just difficult underhand pitching. She is a team player and was going to do whatever it takes for her team. She's a good hitter."
"I love the outfield," Lorraine said. "I wish I could have played more in the past three years but to get the chance to go out there and play was fun. I used to play in high school and then my freshman year a lot. My last three years, I was just a pitcher and just was weeded out of there."