Pitcher Emily Davis (33) is one of four freshmen who start for Hurricane. The others are first baseman-pitcher Courtney Rogers, second baseman Madison Casto and shortstop Cassi Sargent.
Hurricane enters this week's postseason as one of the hottest teams in the state.The Redskins defeated then-No. 1 Cabell Midland in the Mountain State Athletic Conference semifinals and then-No. 2 St. Albans in the championship game.Hurricane hopes to carry that momentum into its sectional tournament, which begins Wednesday at No. 4 Lincoln County. Double-elimination sectionals begin today around the state, but most teams in the Kanawha Valley don't start until Tuesday or Wednesday. (See Page 2B for pairings.)The Redskins avenged mercy-rule losses earlier in the season in both instances against Midland and SA. Midland had hung a 9-1 loss and SA a 12-2 defeat in four innings on the Redskins. Hurricane bolted out to a 6-1 lead on the Knights in the MSAC semifinals and an 8-1 advantage on the Red Dragons in the title game.
The Redskins (25-5) tied the school record for wins with the victory over SA, which was completed Saturday after getting suspended because of rain Wednesday, then set the mark in a 3-0 shutout of the Red Dragons following the completion of the title game Saturday. In the process, Hurricane moved up from fourth to second in the West Virginia Coaches Association final poll."They showed they were tough last week at Cabell Midland,'' said Hurricane coach Josh Caldwell of his players. "We've just got to keep that mindset, that we're going to bring it every night and play our best game.''Hurricane began the season by ripping off 16 straight victories before falling at SA. After that, the young Redskins - who start four freshmen at key positions (pitcher, first base, second base and shortstop) - were 3-5 in their next eight games until hitting their stride again and winning their last five."I feel like we've got a group that's ready to compete with anybody,'' Caldwell said. "I feel like we can beat anybody.''
Hurricane has posted a 1-2 record against Lincoln County, dropping the last two meetings 12-0 and 3-1. The Redskins have beaten Putnam Country rival Winfield 13-2 and 12-3. Lincoln County rested ace pitcher Brooke West in last week's MSAC tournament, where the Panthers beat Midland in the consolation game."We've had good pitching and we've started to hit the ball,'' Caldwell said. "Were going to have to do both to get by Winfield and Lincoln County."If we do those things, we'll be a tough out. I think it's going to be tough to beat [Lincoln County]. Lincoln is the one you're going to have to knock off to get [to the regionals]. I think we believe we can do it.''SA (21-5) stumbles into its doubleheader Wednesday against cross-river rival Nitro. The Red Dragons, who dropped to third in the poll, committed seven errors in the two MSAC tournament games.
"I feel good about [our players'] energy and coming back and showing a lot of heart and character,'' said SA coach Greg Garber. "I think that's a step forward.''Here's a capsule look at the other Kanawha Valley teams and their sectional tournaments:Class AAA
Region 3 Section 3 (George Washington, Logan, South Charleston): No. 8 SC dropped a 3-2 eight-inning decision to No. 5 Logan (21-5) in the teams' only meeting this season. The Wildcats beat GW 14-0 and 9-1.Region 3 Section 4 (Capital, Riverside): The teams' only scheduled meeting this season was rained out. The Warriors (12-11) have bounced back after graduating most of their offense last year, while the Cougars are more competitive than in recent years.
Class AARegion 4 Section 1 (Clay County, Herbert Hoover, Sissonville): The No. 3 Huskies (17-4) have won nine straight. Hoover downed Sissonville (12-13) twice (4-2 and 5-3), but both contests were competitive, and handled the Panthers 20-0 and 11-1. Sissonville also dispatched Clay twice (10-0 and 12-1).Region 4 Section 2 (Poca, Sherman): The Dots (12-16) started slow again and have yet to gain the momentum that led them to their first regional appearance in school history last year. The No. 7 Tide (18-10), who have won five of six, downed Poca 9-5 and 10-2 last week.
Region 4 Section 1 (Buffalo, Hannan, Wahama): The defending state champion Bison (23-5) haven't done much to tarnish the top ranking they've carried from the preseason to the final poll. Buffalo owns a perfect mark against the Wildcats (11-0 and 10-0) and the No. 9 White Falcons (10-2 and 4-3).Region 4 Section 2 (Charleston Catholic, Man, Van): The No. 4 Hillbillies are the team to beat, owning two victories over the Fighting Irish (11-0 and 13-0). Man, though, didn't play the Bulldogs.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com