Prep softball: Without coach, Indians top Huskies
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Despite being unranked playing against the No. 2 team in Class AA, Sissonville was far from intimidated Thursday night.
The Indians had lost twice during the regular season to Region 4 semifinal host Herbert Hoover, but both were by one run. Sissonville blew a seventh-inning lead in one of the games and lost the other in the eighth inning.
When it counted the most, the Indians (16-12) showed no fear from the outset and cruised to a comfortable 7-3 victory over Hoover (23-4) at Michael D. Chandler Field on Thursday night.
"This win is huge," Sissonville assistant coach Andrea Lewis said. "They definitely earned this one. It was all of them. We had prepared so much and they came out here and dominated."
Lewis was coaching the Indians in place of Sissonville Coach Niki Gross serving a school-imposed one-game suspension. The Indians played a game against Ripley on Wednesday, which was against West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission policy with the Westest.
Lewis said the team was motivated by the previous close losses to Hoover earlier in the season.
"Hoover is a great team," Lewis said. "(We) needed to realize they could overcome something like getting beat twice by such close losses.
"We knew we needed to enter like we had won both games. If we showed any ounce of fear, they were going to eat it up. The girls whipped out the eye black, and it was a team attitude that there wasn't going to be anything to stop them."
Sissonville players bought what the de facto coach was selling.
"This is huge," Sissonville senior pitcher Bekah Baldwin said. "Everybody was doubting us but we didn't doubt ourselves. We came in and did what we knew we could do. We knew we could do it. Its great."
Sissonville jumped on Hoover from the start with Baldwin, a West Virginia State signee, blasting a two-out, two-run homer in the first inning to give the Indians a quick 2-0 lead.
"It was wonderful," Baldwin said. "It was a 2-2 and the pitch was right there, and I went with it. I had a feeling but I wasn't sure because the center fielder was backing up and looking. But then everybody started cheering."
The Indians were far from finished. Freshman Reagan Johnson hit her first career home run, a solo shot in the second inning to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.
"Before the game, she (Johnson) said she was feeling a home run," Baldwin said. "She was just kidding around but when she did, I told her 'you definitely felt it.'"
The home run came as a surprise to both Johnson and the Sissonville coaching staff.
"I was speechless," Johnson said. "I was so excited. It was unbelievable and awesome. It was the biggest win of the year. We were ready and came prepared."
Lewis said the freshman seemed not to realize what had happened.
"I was going to shake her because she stopped running," Lewis said. "I told her to keep going but she kept watching. She was surprised but she has been killing the ball."
Hoover cut the deficit to two in the second inning but the Indians scored in all of the first four innings, building a 6-1 lead, and were never threatened.
Every Sissonville batter had a hit as they touched up Hoover standout pitcher Allison Rager for 13 hits. The seven runs are the most the Huskies had given up all year with their previous high being four to Scott.
"Wasn't out night tonight, for sure," Hoover Coach Missy Smith said. "They definitely looked sharper than we did. We didn't do a very good job tonight."
Sissonville plays at defending Class AA state champion Wayne in the Region 4 championship next Thursday.
In other regional action:
Buffalo 13, Wahama 4 - At Mason, freshman catcher Chase Christy went 3-for-3 with five RBI and sophomore pitcher Alli Burdette went the distance to put the Bison into the Class A Region 4 championship game.
Buffalo scored eight runs in the sixth inning against the White Falcons, ending the game after Wahama's own 3-run sixth.
Burdette went 2-for-3 and junior Chelsey Parkins was also 2-for-3 in the win.
Wahama's Shalyn Greer had a three-run homer in the sixth inning, and White Falcons freshman Rachel Roque homered in the bottom of the first.
Buffalo (30-4) will play host to Doddridge County next Thursday in the regional final. The Bulldogs topped Gilmer County in the other Region 4 semifinal Thursday night, 6-5. The Bison are seeking their third consecutive Class A state championship.
Wahama finished the season with a 20-12 record.
Contact Sportswriter Christopher Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1735.