VIENNA, W.Va. - When you win back-to-back Class AA state softball titles, there is little doubt that your coaching staff has developed a solid plan on how to be successful.Case in point: coach Tish Smith's Wayne Pioneers.Making the trek back to the Rosemar Softball Complex in Vienna in search of a second straight championship, Smith realized that a lot of her team's hopes rested on the arm of junior hurler Jessie Rowe.A two-time first-team all-state performer, Rowe took to the pitching rubber in the Pioneers' opening contest against last year's state runner-up Ritchie County and hurled a four-hitter to lead Wayne to a 4-1 victory. She followed that performance with a six-hitter in a 14-1 victory over James Monroe in the semifinals of the winners bracket.
Rowe then dominated in the title round, pitching a two-hitter as the Pioneers repeated with a 5-1 win over James Monroe."Jessie is just a phenomenal little player," Smith said. "She has an extraordinary ability to place the ball with four of her pitches. She never gets rattled. The more pressure, the better she performs."Rowe pitched all 18 innings for the Pioneers during the two-day event, allowing 12 hits, three runs (only two earned) and walking three batters while striking out 19.That's part of the reason why Rowe is one of 18 girls selected to the Class AA softball all-state first team selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.Rowe, teammate Jessica Watts, Herbert Hoover's Allison Rager and Braxton County's Charity Ramsey are all repeat selections, while Robert C. Byrd's Mecca Henderson went from being a Class AAA first-team choice last year to this year's AA squad.Joining Rowe on the team's five-girl pitching staff are Rager, Henderson, Petersburg's Marley Thompson and Ritchie County's Moie Ray. Henderson closed out her time at RCB by striking out 198 batters in 173 innings while Thompson brought the Vikings back to Vienna as the junior posted an 11-3 mark with 74 strikeouts and a 1.14 ERA. Ray, a sophomore, finished with a 13-2 mark and 73 strikeouts.Manning the infield are Watts, a .328 hitter, Sissonville's Alexee Haynes, Scott's Allyson Johnson, Laine Shifflett from James Monroe and Brittany Bible from Petersburg.Haynes, who posted an 8-3 pitching record, batted .506 with six home runs and 30 RBIs while Shifflett, the Mavericks' top hitter with a .486 average, and Bible (.479, 5 HR, 31 RBI) were big reasons for their teams making it to Vienna.The first-team outfield is made up of Ramsey, Wyoming East's Chelsea Duncan and Herbert Hoover's Mikayla Craze.Ramsey, a senior, hit .508 with two home runs, three triples and six doubles. Duncan, also a senior, hit at a .535 clip with 20 doubles.Catchers named to the first unit are Robert C. Byrd's Katie Powell and Ritchie County's Abby Burgess, while the three utility spots are manned by James Monroe's Mikayla Wickline, Wayne's Kasey Endicott and Ritchie's Kenna Delancey.
Powell put together quite a senior season, hitting .560 with four home runs and 16 RBIs while Burgess hit .517 with a pair of round-trippers.Wickline, a senior, posted an 11-2 pitching mark and was one of the Mavericks' top hitters, Endicott hit .377 with eight home runs and Delancey, only a freshman, hit a lofty .652 with nine home runs, seven triples, six doubles, 41 RBIs and 37 stolen bases. On the mound, she posted a 13-1 mark with 109 strikeouts in 70 innings. Those numbers earned Delancey the captain's spot on the unit.Named to the second team as pitchers were Lincoln's Sami Elder, Braxton County's Taylor Bragg, Westside's Cassidee Blankenship, Roane County's Casey Lassiter and Grafton's Erin Wambaugh.The unit's infield includes Cassidy Ray of Ritchie County, Tori Rovello of Bridgeport, Robert C. Byrd's Alicia Noble (captain), Allison Pritt of Braxton County and Allison Winans of Lincoln.Tori Postlewait of East Fairmont, Emily Fry of Wayne and Kaitlyn Keplinger of Petersburg make up the second-team outfield while the Bridgeport's Miki Glenn and Ravenswood's Sidnee Morgan are the catchers.Named as second-team utility players are Bekah Baldwin of Sissonville, Danielle Fluharty of North Marion and Ravens-wood's Katie Buckbee.