SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A great start to their state debut.
The Wahama softball team — playing in the state tournament for the first time in program history — is now just one win away from the Class A championship, as the Lady Falcons defeated Petersburg 6-5, and Ritchie County 6-3 Tuesday on Craft Field at Little Creek Park in Kanawha County.
In their opening game, the Lady Falcons (26-0) trailed Petersburg (21-6) 1-0 after a second inning error. Then the Lady Vikings went up 2-0 on a one-out RBI single from Jenna Burgess in the third frame.
WHS — which left the bases loaded in the third inning, and stranded a runner on second in the fourth — tied the game with a two-out, two-run single from Deborah Miller in the top of the sixth inning.
However, Petersburg (21-6) regained the lead on a Kymberly Minnich RBI single in the home half of the sixth.
Wahama tied the game at three with one out in the top of the seventh, when Amber Wolfe singled home Mikie Lieving. Then, with two on and two outs, Morgan Christian hammered a home run to center field, giving WHS a 6-3 lead.
The Lady Vikings attempted rally began with an leadoff double by Maddison Champ, who then scored on a single from Mackenzie Kitzmiller. A sac-fly from Braylee Corbin brought Kitzmiller home to score, but PHS left the bases loaded and fell 6-5.
Lieving struck out seven and walked one in the complete game pitching victory. Minnich took the loss in a complete game for Petersburg, also striking out seven and walking one.
Christian led the Lady Falcons at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a home run, three RBIs, and two runs scored. Lieving and Victoria VanMatre were both 2-for-4, with VanMatre scoring twice, and Lieving scoring once. Wolfe, Miller, Emma Gibbs and Emma Knapp had a single apiece in the victory, with two RBIs from Miller, and one RBI from Wolfe, who also scored a run.
Champ, Kitzmiller and Brooklyn Rohrbaugh each had two hits for PHS, with Champ doubling twice and scoring once, Kitzmiller driving in a run and scored once, and Rohrbaugh picking up an RBI.
Each team had 11 hits, and Wahama committed all-3 of the game’s errors. The Lady Falcons stranded seven runners on base, three less than Petersburg.
In the second game, Wahama faced Ritchie County — who defeated Midland Trail 9-1 in the opening game of the day. WHS met with the Lady Rebels (22-6) three times in the regular season, winning 5-0, 5-0, and 6-0.
Ritchie County loaded the bases in the top of the first inning, but the Lady Falcons got out of it with an unassisted double-play from VanMatre.
The Red and White then took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, with Lauren Noble doubling home Gibbs and Wolfe.
Ritchie County ended the shut out bid with two outs in the third inning, as Chloe Elliott hit a two-run home run.
WHS reestablished the lead with an RBI triple from Morgan Christian in the fourth inning, and then led 5-2 with RBI singles from Wolfe and VanMatre in the fifth.
Wahama’s final run came on a solo home run by Deborah Miller in the sixth inning, making the margin 6-2.
RCHS began the finale with three straight singles, with Elliott driving in Alyvia Pittman to make it a 6-3 game. Lieving stuck out the next two batters, and then Wahama got the final out on a grounder to Noble at shortstop.
Lieving struck out nine and walked two in her complete game victory. Elliott struck out nine in the complete game loss for the Lady Rebels.
Wolfe led the Lady Falcons at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two doubles, two runs scored and one RBI. VanMatre was 2-for-3 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. Miller’s lone hit was her solo home urn, Christian tripled once and drove in a run, while Noble doubled once and drove in two. Lieving and Gibbs both singled once and scored once in the triumph.
Leading the Lady Rebels, Pittman was 3-for-4 with a run scored, while Elliott went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs.
Wahama outhit Ritchie County 10-to-8, but committed the game’s only error. RCHS left nine runners on base, four more than WHS.
After clinching a spot in the Class A final, third-year Wahama head coach Chris Noble talked about what got his team to this point, and what the Lady Falcons have to do to finish the job.
“I’m pretty much speechless for the team in general for the whole year, it has been amazing,” Coach Noble said. “They have no quit in them what-so-ever, none. We were down against Petersburg, we didn’t play very good. Most teams I’ve been around would have got down on themselves, and this team never does. It’s never over until it’s over with this team.
“We have to just keep playing Wahama softball. All of these teams here are extremely good teams. With Ritchie County, if we have to play them again it’ll be the fifth time, and it gets harder every time.”
The Lady Falcons return to Craft Field at 2 p.m. Wednesday with a chance to claim the state championship, against the winner of the morning contest between Ritchie County and Petersburg.
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Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.