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PREP SOFTBALL: West leads Lincoln County to region title

POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Lincoln County senior pitcher Brooke West has been a riddle that no team can solve through four games this postseason.

Her impressive run continued Thursday as the lefthander tossed a complete game, two-hitter to lead the Panthers to a 13-1 win over Point Pleasant in the Class AAA Region 4 title game, and back to the softball state tournament after a two-year absence.

The Panthers, who won the 2011 state title, improved to 28-8 with their 11th straight win, while Point Pleasant’s season ended at 25-9.

West struck out nine in the contest and has now allowed just three runs this postseason.

“Brooke is the most controlled pitcher I’ve ever seen,” said Lincoln County coach Rod Hoover. “Her demeanor is the same whether she struck out the side or gave up a homer. She’s just so poised, calm, cool and collected. We’re blessed to have her.

“She was that way as a freshman, and with three more years of experience, she’s that much better.”

West was solid from the start, having struck out seven of the first nine batters she faced and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning.

“She controls her pitches, she’s always around the plate and her ball stays down,” said Point Pleasant coach Jamie Higginbotham of West. “She can get curveball across for strikes and she’s just a heck of a pitcher.”

West credited the Panthers’ defense with the win. Lincoln County committed two errors in the contest, neither of which caused any damage.

“We’ve been playing the best ball that we’ve played all year,” West said. “Our defense has been spectacular. It helps me when I know that the defense can make the plays behind me.”

West was also helped by five Point Pleasant errors that helped lead to an early 5-0 advantage.

After a scoreless first, Lincoln County plated three runs when Ashley Hoffman smacked a three-run homer that just wrapped around the left-field foul pole. An infield error extended the inning before Hoffman’s two-out blast.

The Panthers added a single run in the third on an RBI single by Faith Huffman, and another run in the fourth when Kayla Jeffers singled and scored from first on a throwing error by catcher Rebekah Darst, whose pickoff attempt rolled to the right-field corner.

“We dropped a pop-up and it turned into three runs with the homer,” said Higginbotham. “Then we dropped another pop-up that cost us two more runs and we were down 5-0. Against that pitcher, you can’t be down 5-0. We’d been doing well and I preached to them to give them only 21 outs, but they were the better team tonight.”

With a five-run lead, West had the Knights exactly where she wanted them.

“It took us little bit to get started, but we were able to come through. When we score runs it’s such a great cushion for me as a pitcher.”

Lincoln County extended its lead to 7-0 in the fifth when Sarah Barrett tripled home Sarah Pennington, followed by a Brandi Isaacs sacrifice fly.

Point Pleasant finally got to West in the fifth inning, turning a hit batsman, a Darst single, and an RBI double from Madison Barker into the team’s only run.

After a quiet sixth inning, Lincoln County put the game away in the seventh, with six runs, highlighted by a double from Hoffman that plated a pair of runs.

Huffman and Kayla Jeffers also had RBIs in the in the inning, while Hoffman finished with a game-high five RBI from the No. 8 spot in the lineup.

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