Jun. 13—A year behind schedule because of the pandemic, the state softball tournament will make its debut at Little Creek Park in South Charleston in less than two weeks.
In order to get there, 24 teams have one more hurdle to clear. Regional tournaments begin Monday around the state in a best-of-3 format.
In each region, the Section 2 champion will host Game 1, with Game 2 moving to the site of the Section 1 champion. If Game 3 is necessary, the Section 2 winner would again serve as host.
Here is a look at the matchups for Region 3:
James Monroe at Midland Trail, Monday
Midland Trail at James Monroe, Tuesday
James Monroe at Midland Trail (if necessary), Wednesday
all games 5:30 p.m.
Midland Trail (18-4) goes into regional week on a 15-game win streak, and pitcher Emmie Lopetrone is a big reason why. She is 6-0 with a 1.67 earned run average and 0.98 WHIP. The senior has struck out 71 batters over 71 1/3 innings. The Patriots can also turn to Meghan Gill (1.44 ERA).
Faith Bailes has been Trail’s top hitter, leading the way with a .472 batting average and 1.298 OPS. She has 13 doubles and five triples and has driven in 31 runs. Gill is at .464 with four homers and 24 RBIs, Madison Campbell has a team-high five home runs and 21 RBIs and Sydney Sheets has an OPS of 1.180.
James Monroe (15-11) played even through the regular season before mowing through the sectional. The Mavericks are batting .374 as a team and are averaging 9.3 runs per game.
Among the top hitters for the Mavericks are Emille Canterbury (.493, 5 2B, 28 RBIs), Shannon Phipps (.461, 6 2B, 25 RBIs, 30 R), Haley Hunnicutt (.441, 6 2B, 30 RBIs) and Kendra Karnes (.426, 6 HR, 26 RBIs).
Phipps (90K/37 BB, 52 2/3 innings) and Abi Parker (46 K/15 BB, 70 1/3 IP) have split most of the time in the circle.
Wyoming East at Independence, Monday
Independence at Wyoming East, Tuesday
Wyoming East at Independence (if necessary), Wednesday
all games 5:30 p.m.
These former sectional rivals will now play for even higher stakes. They met once in the regular season, with Indy pulling out a 2-0 win May 6 in Coal City.
The pitching matchup is a big one — Delaney Buckland for Independence and Olivia Hylton for Wyoming East.
Buckland went through a meat grinder schedule with a 17-12 record, but she has 303 strikeouts and just 39 walks (a ratio of nearly 8-to-1) in 184 2/3 innings. Her earned run average is 2.39.
Kaylen Parks is having a remarkable season at the plate for Independence (20-13). She is batting .590 with a school-record 12 home runs and 56 RBIs. Her OPS is 1.806 and she has scored 48 runs while smacking 12 doubles and seven triples.
Alli Hypes has scored 33 runs and driven in 23. Kendall Martin has 10 doubles, five triples and 35 RBIs. Destiny Blankenship (.353) has four doubles and three triples.
Like Buckland, Hylton threw a perfect game for Wyoming East (16-11) in the sectional tournament. She held three teams to one run and two hits.
Hylton is also a force at the plate. She had a double, home run and five RBIs in the sectional-clinching win over Bluefield. Paige Laxton, Maddie Clark and Kayley Bane have also been offensive mainstays for the Warriors.
St. Albans at Greenbrier East, Monday
Greenbrier East at St. Albans, Tuesday
St. Albans at Greenbrier East (if necessary), Wednesday
all games 6:30 p.m.
One thing is for certain — there will be a new Class AAA state champion. Hurricane, which one the last five and six of seven, was eliminated in sectional play.
St. Albans has made a strong case to assume the throne, entering regionals with a 28-0 record.
Pitching has been the Red Dragons’ calling card, led by Tayven Stephenson (18-0). The sophomore has 213 strikeouts in 107 innings — an eyelash below two per inning — and has only walked 15 while limiting teams to 33 hits. Her ERA is 0.39. Meanwhile, Kendall Stoffel (10-0) has a 0.51 ERA and 82 strikeouts and given up 24 hits over 68 innings.
Senior Jillian Holley is the team’s leading hitter at .456. She has 10 home runs, seven doubles and 34 RBIs. Gracie Payne is hitting .409, Taylor Glancy .403 and Stoffel .402.
Greenbrier East (18-6) has put together a strong season as well, punctuated by a romp through the sectional tournament.
The Spartans have been led by the 1-2 pitching attack of Taylor Graham and Josi Ervin. Graham (8-2) has a 2.03 ERA and 94 strikeouts. Ervin (7-2) has 102 Ks and a 3.43 ERA.
Graham also leads the team with a .431 average and has 22 RBIs. Lindsey Black is batting .403 with four home runs. Other leaders on offense are Josi Patterson (.392, 1 HR), Annabelle Honaker (.366) and Ervin (.313).
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