PARKERSBURG - Softball teams throughout the Mountain State will attempt to make it one step closer to the state tournament today when regional semifinal action gets under way.
When it comes to area programs, some squads should have a much easier time advancing to next Thursday's regional final than others - at least on paper.
"Anything can happen in a ball game, especially when you have a week in between," said veteran Ritchie County head coach Dave Mossor, whose 27-2 Rebels will leave before noon today to head to Oak Glen (8-18) for a 5 p.m. first pitch.
The Rebels will be without the services of center fielder Rachel "Pistol" Haddox and are likely to have Leah Kuhn take her spot in a Class AA, Region I, semifinal. Mossor said Moie Ray is expected to get the nod on the hill, which will put Kenna DeLancey at second base and slide Becca Sullivan to shortstop.
"She hurt it (knee) against Roane County Thursday night sliding into second base," said Mossor, who tried to play a game on Tuesday versus Parkersburg South, but it was rained out.
"I don't know what she did. She came down hard on her toe and smacked her knee into the ground. It was all blue and swollen up."
Area W.Va. Regional
Class AAA, Region I
Parkersburg South (11-22) at Wheeling Park (18-5), 5 p.m.
Class AAA, Region III
Ripley (21-9) at South Charleston (19-9), 6 p.m.
Class AA, Region I
Ritchie County (27-2) at Oak Glen (8-18), 5 p.m.
Braxton County (21-7) at East Fairmont (24-11), 5 p.m.
Class A, Region I
Magnolia (15-14) at Wheeling Central (19-8), 7 p.m.
St. Marys (22-8) at Clay-Battelle (8-17), 6 p.m.
Class A, Region IV
Gilmer County (21-7) at Doddridge County (18-9), 5 p.m.
Braxton County, which advanced to the Little Kanawha Conference tournament semifinals before bowing out to champion Ritchie County, comprises the other half of double-A Region I and will play at 5 p.m. versus host East Fairmont (24-11). The Eagles, who sport a 21-7 mark, knocked off the Bees in their only meeting in late April by securing a wild 15-14 road triumph.
Like Ritchie County, the Blue Devils of St. Marys skipper John Mike Nichols are also expected to have a not too difficult time come 6 p.m. today when the team from Pleasants County heads to Clay-Battelle (8-17) for a Class A, Region I, affair. The Blue Devils, who are 22-8 and fell to Ritchie County in the LKC title game, rolled Clay-Battelle 20-0 in their only meeting of the season.
The St. Marys/Clay-Battelle winner will face off next week with a shot at Jackson Park on the line against today's 7 p.m. victor between Magnolia (15-14) and host Wheeling Central (19-8). The Maroon Knight knocked off the Blue Eagles, 9-4, in their lone meeting more than a month ago.
If the third time ends up being the charm that's going to be great news for fans of Gilmer County as the Titans head for a 5 p.m. showdown in West Union against host Doddridge County (18-9) in a Class A, Region IV, semifinal.
The Bulldogs, who feature Ashlie LaFalce (.479 AVG, 5 HRs, 33 RBIs), Lacy Perkins (.464 AVG, 13 2Bs, 28 RBIs) and 10-win hurler Megan Sheets (1.87 ERA, 113 Ks, 85 IP), dropped the Titans 6-1 last week in the LKC fifth place game and scored a 1-0 triumph in their first meeting of the season.
"They are petty tough and the Sheets girl is pretty tough. If we hit her we will be fine," said GCHS head coach Wendell Tomblin. "We've got to put the ball in play. If we don't put the ball in play it will be our last game.
"We can't have 12 to 14 strikeouts. I've told the girls for the last week and a half we must put the ball in play. Hopefully, they take it to heart, but Doddridge County is good."
Ripley will be in the same boat so to speak at Gilmer County as the Vikings (21-9) will try to defeat host South Charleston (19-9) for the first time in three attempts. Black Eagle pitcher Alli Burdette has posted wins of 3-1 and 1-0 against the Vikings.