Bu Jim Butta
Parkersburg News & Sentinel
VIENNA, W.Va. - When you win back-to-back Class AA state softball championships, there is little doubt that your coaching staff has developed a solid plan on how to be successful.
Case in point are the Wayne Pioneers of Coach Tish Smith.
Making the trek back to the Rosemar Softball Complex in search of a second straight title, the Smith realized that a lot of her team's hopes rested on the arm of junior pitcher Jessie Rowe.
A two-time first team All-State performer, Rowe took to the pitching rubber in the Pioneers' opening contest against 2012 runner-up Ritchie County and threw a complete-game, four-hitter to lead Wayne to a 4-1 victory. She followed that performance with a six-hitter in a 14-1 victory over James Monroe in the winner's bracket semifinals.
But, those would not be the highlights of her second trip to the state finals. Rowe took to the circle on the tournament's final day and pitched a two-hitter as the Pioneers repeated with a 5-1 win over James Monroe.
"Jessie is just a phenomenal little player," Smith said. "She has an extraordinary ability to place the ball with four of her pitches.
"She never gets rattled. The more pressure, the better she performs."
Rowe did, pitching all 18 innings during the two-day event, allowing 12 hits, three runs (only two earned) and walking three batters while striking out 19.
It is little reason why Rowe is among the 18 girls selected to the Class AA All-State first team selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Rowe, her teammate Jessica Watts, Herbert Hoover's Allison Rager and Braxton County's Charity Ramsey are all repeat selections, while Robert C. Byrd's Mecca Henderson made the move from Class AAA to Class AA and was again a first-team pick.
Joining Rowe on the team's five-girl pitching staff is Rager, Henderson, Petersburg's Marley Thompson and Ritchie County's Moie Ray. Henderson closed out her time at Byrd by striking out 198 batters in 173 innings, while Thompson brought the Vikings to the State Tournament while posting an 11-3 mark with 74 strikeouts and a 1.14 ERA.