Prep softball: Wayne pitcher headlines Class AA All-State team
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.
Rager, a sophomore, was 17-4 with 162 strikeouts in 128 2/3 innings. She posted an 0.98 ERA.
Ray, also only a sophomore, finished with a 13-2 mark, striking out 73 batters she faced.
Manning the infield is Watts, a .328 hitter, Sissonville's Alexee Haynes, Scott's Allyson Johnson, Laine Shifflett from James Monroe and Brittany Bible from Petersburg.
Haynes, who posted an 8-3 record, batted .494 with six home runs and 31 RBI, while Shifflett, the Mavericks' top hitter with a .486 average, and Bible (.479, 5 HR, 31 RBI) were big reasons for their teams making it to Vienna.
The outfield is made up of Ramsey, Wyoming East's Chelsea Duncan and Herbert Hoover's Mikayla Craze.
Craze led the Huskies' hitting attack through a season that saw them dominate the No. 1 spot in the West Virginia Sportswriters Class AA poll. She hit .495 with four triples and 10 stolen bases as Hoover's leadoff hitter.
A senior, Ramsey made the most of her final season by hitting .508, hitting two home runs, three triples and six doubles. Duncan, also a senior, hit at a .535 clip and amassed 20 doubles.
Catchers named to the first unit include Byrd's Katie Powell and Ritchie County's Abby Burgess. The three utility spots are manned by James Monroe's Mikayla Wickline, Wayne's Kasey Endicott and Ritchie County's Kenna Delancey.
Powell put together quite a senior season, hitting .560 with four home runs and 16 RBI, while Burgess - who was taking over a position manned by four-time first-team performer Allison Delancey - made the most of her first season behind the plate by hitting .517 with a pair of home runs.
And, while those numbers are impressive, they pale in comparison to those posted by the unit's trio of utility players.
Wickline, a senior, posted an 11-2 pitching mark and was one of the Mavericks' top hitters, while Endicott hit .377 with eight home runs and, more importantly, played flawless softball at third base.
Rounding out the trio is Delancey, only a freshman yet named captain of the first team. In her first season of varsity softball Delancey hit a lofty .652 at the plate with nine home runs, seven triples, six doubles and 41 RBI and 37 stolen bases. She posted a 13-1 pitching record with 109 strikeouts in 70 innings of work.