Prep softball: Raiders stay perfect, top Irish
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Roane County softball team finds itself in territory on which it has never tread in its 19 years of existence.
The Raiders are having their best season in school history and are one of two undefeated teams left in the state, joining Class A Valley (Fayette).
Roane continued its perfect season Wednesday, improving to 16-0 after knocking off Charleston Catholic 9-1 at Little Creek Park Field in South Charleston on Wednesday.
Despite their huge success, the Raiders not only have never made it to the State Tournament, they've yet to win the Region 1, Section 2 title. Ritchie County has won the previous 23 sectional championships.
"This is our 19th year as a school, and we have never been," said Coach Sam Salvucci, who is in his 14th season guiding the Raiders.
"We get Ritchie (County) in the section. They have always been our roadblock. We have never won a sectional yet. Maybe this will be the year, I don't know."
The players know what stands in front of them in Ritchie, but want desperately to end the streak and get past the Rebels and perhaps even further.
"That is all we talk about," Roane pitcher Casey Lassiter said. "We want to get to states. It would mean everything. Of course Ritchie is really good. We have to get that out of our heads that we aren't going to win against them. We have to go in there confident."
Despite being the one of two unbeaten teams, the Raiders are ranked just seventh in Class AA in the latest West Virginia Sportswriters high school softball poll.
Part of that may be because of Ritchie's dominance over the section and the Rebels are currently ranked second with a 14-3 record.
The two teams don't play each other in the regular season.
Either way, the Raiders are enjoying the moment and undefeated season so far.
"It's an amazing feeling," Roane third baseman Cassidy Taylor said. "If we win, it would be out of this world. Our whole school and community are like, 'You can do it'. We have never had this much support as a girls sport before. It's always about football."
Lassiter has pitched and won every game for Roane this season, improving her and the team's record to 16-0. She has pitched 82 innings, struck out 95 batters, walked just 19, and has an earned run average of 2.02.
"It's definitely been the best season I have ever had," Lassiter said. "It's amazing knowing we have won every game. It's pretty awesome. The community is really supporting us and we don't want to let them down. That is really pushing us. We have a lot of heart and want to keep going."
The junior has thrown three no-hitters on the season, including two in a row last Saturday in a doubleheader sweep over Calhoun County by scores of 15-0 and 16-0.
Lassiter went five more innings without giving up a hit to Catholic before a single by Irish leadoff hitter Darian Vines in the sixth broke up the no-hit bid.
The only run Roane allowed was unearned on a throwing error by catcher Miranda Hall in the seventh inning.
"She's awesome and one of the best we have had here," Taylor said on Lassiter. "We know Casey can do it and we have her back."
Taylor is Roane's leading hitter with a .592 batting average. The sophomore has drove in 35 runs and added 17 stolen bases. Hall, a junior, is second on the team with a .531 average with two home runs and 33 RBI.