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Prep softball: Weather could put a damper on MSAC tournament

By Derek Taylor, Prep sports editor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The threat of continued thunderstorms Tuesday and Wednesday might put Hurricane’s quest for another Mountain State Athletic Conference softball championship on hold.

The MSAC semifinals are set for Hurricane High School beginning at 5 p.m. today with No. 3 seed Ripley facing second-seeded Spring Valley. The Redskins are scheduled to take on rival Cabell Midland at 7 p.m., but the playoffs could be pushed back if Monday’s rain and storms continue as predicted.

Hurricane coach Josh Caldwell said the conference plan is to keep things simple in the event of a rainout.

“We’ll just back up everything one day,” Caldwell said. “I don’t think it’ll get stretched all the way to Saturday. I figure it will be done by then. We’d like to have it done because teams are starting sectionals on (May 5).”

The MSAC semis present Hurricane (23-1) with an opportunity for what would be a rare piece of revenge for a defending state champion. Midland (18-6) beat Hurricane 12-2 in the 2013 MSAC title game. The Redskins lost only once more last season -- to Lincoln County in a best-of-three sectional series -- en route to their first Class AAA state championship.

The 2012 MSAC playoffs were threatened by rain as well. That year, Hurricane led St. Albans midway through the title game before rains forced the postponement of the game’s conclusion until Saturday of that week. The Redskins finished off the Red Dragons in the first game of an impromptu doubleheader for their first MSAC crown.

Hurricane junior Courtney Rogers, the state Player of the Year in 2013, already has eclipsed her marks in home runs and RBI from a year ago. Rogers, who is hitting .556 with 15 home runs and 64 RBI, had 11 homers and 60 RBI last season in 39 games, 15 more than the Redskins have played this season.

In less than three complete seasons Rogers is 138 of 282 (.489) with 32 homers, 35 doubles and 161 RBI during her prep career. She led the Kanawha Valley in RBI in each of her first two seasons, and has 20 more than Sissonville sophomore Alexee Haynes, who ranks second on the area list this season.

The meeting between the Class AAA No. 4 Knights and Redskins will be the fourth of the season. Hurricane claimed wins in each of the first three meetings by scores of 9-8, 4-2 and 13-1.

Spring Valley (15-4) is ranked eighth in the latest Daily Mail softball poll, released Sunday night. Ripley is unranked.

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THOUGH IT dropped a 3-2 decision at unranked Poca last week, Class A No. 4 Sherman (14-9) appears to be the favorite to emerge from Region 3 as sectional tournament play gets started last week.

Although regional foe Valley possesses a 14-3 mark, the Tide’s schedule has been considerably more challenging. Sherman has dropped a pair of one-run games to Class AA Poca (10-11), a pair of games to No. 2 Buffalo (15-5), single-game losses to Class AA No. 5 Ritchie County (15-5) and Class AA No. 4 Sissonville (16-7), Chapmanville (14-10), Class AAA No. 3 Logan (20-3) and unranked Class AAA Riverside (10-11).

Tide coach Jim Henderson said he believes seeing more talented teams in the course of the regular season will give his team a leg up on its competition once postsesaon play begins.

“Seeing different pitchers is big, because when you get to the state tournament a lot of times you’re going to see different pitchers or better pitchers,” Henderson said. “We used to be double-A and Poca was always on our schedule. We like playing them, and it’s always a competitive game.

“You want games like that. If you’re getting blown out or you’re blowing someone out it doesn’t help you,” Henderson said.

Sherman is led by senior shortstop Baylee Harless, junior pitcher Kylie Wells and senior catcher Hali Jarrell. The Tide open Region 3, Section 3 play next week against Valley and Van.

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ANOTHER SQUAD looking to make some noise in the postseason is Class AA Roane County (22-6).

The Raiders fell out of the Daily Mail poll this week after losing in a doubleheader sweep to No. 9 Ravenswood late last week. That could spell trouble for the Raiders’ long-term aspirations, as they and the Red Devils (15-5) are together in a Region 1, Section 2 grouping that also includes fifth-ranked Ritchie County (18-3).

Cassidy Taylor leads the Raiders with a ,563 batting average, seven home runs and 43 RBI.

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FOR THE third week in a row there is a new No. 1 team in Class AA, but claim to the top spot has yet to leave the clutches of the Cardinal Conference.

Herbert Hoover (21-4) topped the Daily Mail poll this week, one week after Sissonville (16-7) took over from two-time defending state champion Wayne (17-6). The Indians dropped games at Chapmanville and Wayne last week and fell from the top spot to No. 4 this week.

Hoover, which plays host to the Region 4, Section 1 tournament next week that includes Clay County and Nicholas County, was scheduled to visit Wayne on Monday night for the Huskies’ penultimate regular season game. Hoover travels to Scott on Thursday.

Though the league’s top teams have dominated the Daily Mail poll this season, none of them play in the same section. Sissonville is paired with Poca in Region 4, Section 2 while Wayne will face Tolsia and Mingo Central in Section 4 next week.

Hoover junior Allison Rager is enjoying a stellar season comparable to Hurricane pitcher Courtney Rogers’ Player of the Year season from 2013. Rager is 12-3 with area-leading numbers in ERA (0.74) and strikeouts (103). The two-time All-State selection is hitting .522 with eight home runs, 38 RBI and nine doubles.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.


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