Essential reporting in volatile times.

Not a Subscriber yet? Click here to take advantage of All access digital limited time offer $5.99 per month EZ Pay.

Interested in Donating? Click #ISupportLocal for more information on supporting local journalism.


West Virginia State softball player Paige Scruggs is among several Kanawha Valley products who were performing well for Mountain East Conference softball teams when the 2020 spring season was canceled.

While the state still awaits word from the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission as to the future of the prep sports schedule, college sports already have been nixed through the spring.

But unlike spring high school athletics, spring college teams had already begun play. A large number of Kanawha Valley products had gotten off to big starts to the year, only to have their seasons cut short.

Division I players like Florida State’s Kiersten Landers, Virginia Tech’s Jayme Bailey and Marshall’s Katie Adams, all Hurricane products, have had their exploits documented fairly well in the Gazette-Mail. But on a more local level, particularly in the Mountain East Conference, there were plenty of Valley standouts as well.

Here is a list of such players off to fast starts this spring:

Emily Moore, West Virginia State: The junior and former Winfield standout picked up where she left off in 2019 at both the plate and in the circle. Moore was hitting .324 with a team-high four home runs and 10 RBIs in 17 games and 13 starts. She also made a team-best 13 pitching appearances, going 6-2 (accounting for two-thirds of State’s nine wins) with a 1.17 ERA. Moore’s 51 strikeouts and 572/3 innings pitched were also tops among State hurlers.

Paige Scruggs, West Virginia State: It was a bit of a modest start by Scruggs’ lofty standards, but the junior had a .300 batting average to go with 13 RBIs, second-best among Yellow Jacket hitters. Scruggs, a product of Hurricane High School, hit .413 with five home runs a year ago and has been a notoriously streaky hitter since her prep playing days.

Kendal Marshall, Charleston: The Golden Eagles were off to a 14-2 start and were being propelled by several Valley-grown products. Marshall, a junior and former Riverside player, ranked among the league’s unofficial leaders with a .458 batting average through 16 starts, wutg six doubles and a .500 on-base percentage.

Karlie Pinkerton, Charleston: The senior from Sissonville was making the most of her final season, hitting .365 with a team-best 23 hits and 14 runs. Pinkerton had also been successful on five of her six stolen-base attempts.

Emma Groe, Charleston: With a team-high six home runs through 16 games, Groe had already homered more in her first collegiate season than she had in any single season at George Washington. The freshman’s .848 slugging percentage was also tops among Golden Eagles hitters.

Grace Smith, West Virginia Wesleyan: Speaking of GW freshmen starting their careers with a bang, Smith was building on a terrific senior prep season that saw her win Mountain State Athletic Conference player of the year honors a year ago. Through 18 games, Smith was wrapping out hits at a .464 clip and had a .524 on-base percentage.

Tori Ward, Glenville State: If Ward, a senior, played her last collegiate softball this season, she went out on a high note. The Poca High School product was tied for the team lead with 10 appearances in the circle, going 6-2 in those starts to account for two-thirds of the Pioneers’ wins. Ward also led Glenville State in ERA (2.51), innings pitched (552/3), strikeouts (16), complete games (six) and opposing batting average (.244). She has also tacked on six base hits and five RBIs in 23 at-bats.

Cartney Schoolcraft, Concord: While Ward was pacing the Pioneers in the circle, Schoolcraft was doing very much the same in Athens for the Mountain Lions. The former standout at Winfield had established team highs in innings pitched (32), wins (three), strikeouts (46) and had the team’s only save.

Taylor Bonnett, West Liberty: The former Poca player had made seven appearances in relief already this season, building upon a solid 2019 campaign in which she made 21 appearances and two starts. Bonnett had yielded three earned runs in 81/3 innings for the reigning MEC champs while striking out seven.

Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948 or Follow him on Twitter @RPritt.