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Prep softball: Hoover freshman jumps right in

A common way to introduce talented freshmen softball players into the starting lineup is to place them in positions that tend to see less action than most.

If one wants to identify potential up-and-comers in prep softball, those players can typically be found at second base or right field, for example.

This isn’t the case at Herbert Hoover this season, where freshman catcher Madison Bowles has helped stake the Class AA No. 3 Huskies to a 7-3 record after a 2-2 start to the 2014 season. Bowles is second on the Hoover roster with a .481 batting average and is tied with All-State junior Allison Rager for the team lead in RBI with 12.

“It’s been a really great opportunity for me to play as a freshman. Not a lot of people get to do that,” Bowles said. “So, I’ve worked really hard, you know, to get better at what I’m doing.

“I’ve worked with Allison, we’ve worked together and we’ve just bonded,” Bowles said. “It’s actually been kind of an easy process to slip right in to.”

The Huskies’ ace pitcher, Rager is 6-3 with a 1.15 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 48.2 innings. She threw 19 consecutive strikes last week in a 16-0 win against Nicholas County, and said that her transition to a new battery mate after the 2013 graduation of former catcher and team captain Damia Mogielski has been relatively seamless.

“She worked really hard in the off-season, and she’s very deserving of her spot,” said Rager, who has her own experience as a freshman phenomenon. Rager was named Kanawha Valley Rookie of the Year in 2012.

“It’s been an easy transition because we worked together so much in the off-season,” Rager said. “It just made it a lot easier for her but also for me on the mound at the start of the season.”

Bowles’ work behind the plate has been solid but she has truly stood out with a bat in her hands. She has a home run and three doubles in her first 10 varsity games. At the same time there is room for improvement. Among the 14 players on the Hoover roster, Bowles ranks second in strikeouts, having fanned seven times.

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HURRICANE DEBUTED at No. 1 in the Daily Mail Class AAA softball poll this week, completing a diamond-sport sweep of the No. 1 poll spots for the school. The Redskin baseball team is at the top of the Daily Mail Class AAA baseball poll.

The softball ’Skins, who won the Class AAA state championship in 2013, made their first appearance as the top-ranked team in the state with the vote by sportswriters from across West Virginia. John Marshall finished the 2013 regular season as the top-ranked team in the state but fell to rival Wheeling Park in postseason play and did not reach the state tournament.

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THE INJURY sustained by Sissonville sophomore shortstop Karli Pinkerton last week was not as bad as initially diagnosed. After visiting a specialist Friday, Pinkerton was diagnosed with a Grade 4 ankle sprain Friday. She will be in a cast for four weeks. It is still unknown if Pinkerton will be able to return for postseason play, which begins May 5. Pinkerton’s injury was originally diagnosed as a hairline fracture to her right fibula.

The Indians (7-1) are ranked second in the Daily Mail Class AA poll, behind two-time defending state champion Wayne.

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THE CHARLESTON Daily Mail will publish area statistical leaders for teams in Kanawha and Putnam counties beginning April 15. Teams are asked to email complete statistical packages to the Daily Mail by 5 p.m. each Sunday for inclusion of their players among area leaders.

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

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