Wayne continues title defense
WAYNE -- There's only one way to have the chance to defend a state title: Get back to the state tournament the next season.
Wayne High School's softball team achieved that goal Thursday night, scoring three times each in the first and third innings to defeat Sissonville, 7-3, in the Class AA Region 4 championship game on a damp Pioneer Field.
Afternoon rain created a soggy field, but Wayne's grounds crew got the surface in playing condition.
Sissonville (17-13) scored twice in the top of the first, helped by three errors by the Pioneers.
Wayne responded with three in the bottom of the inning and the three-run burst in the third gave the Pioneers and pitcher Jessie Rowe the edge they needed and got the Wayne fans in the big crowd thinking about that return trip to Vienna for the state tournament.
"We talked about it all year," Wayne coach Tish Smith said. "There's probably more pressure on going back than getting there the first time. I knew this team had the talent. They just had to put it together and they did."
Wayne (26-6) will play the Region 1 champion (either Ritchie County or Braxton County) in the first round at 10 a.m. next Wednesday at Jackson Park.
Freshman Allie Maynard delivered a two-run, two-out double to ignite the Wayne rally in the first. It was her sixth double and increased her RBI total to 15. She later added her third triple of the season.
"We've had faith in her all year," Smith said. "She's got a big bat. I'm tickled for her."
"I hit it pretty good," Maynard said. "That got us started."
In the third, Marshall signee Jessica Watts led off with a triple and two batters later Endicott lined a homer over the fence in left. Fans seated behind the fence had to quickly scatter to avoid being struck. The sophomore has a team-high eight homers and 37 RBI. Down the stretch, Wayne fans started chanting Endicott's name as she accounted for nine of the final 12 outs of the game. She threw out eight Indians runners and made a diving catch on a bunt attempt.
"She's so steady, clutch and strong," Smith said.
Endicott said Sissonville starter Bekah Baldwin gave her an ideal pitch. After the homer, Alexee Haynes replaced Baldwin on the mound.
"I was sitting on it," Endicott said. "It was inside a bit and I got it. It was huge. We were down a little after the first, but we knew our bats would come around. That gave us a cushion."
Time off -- this was just Wayne's second game in 17 days -- and the delay getting the field ready contributed a bit to the shaky start by the Pioneers.
"We usually have a few of those," Smith said of long innings. "I'm glad we got it out of the way. Sissonville's a beast. They'll be right back here. They came out quick, but we got what we needed when we came up."
Rowe had one of the three first-inning errors, but settled down. The right-hander gave up seven hits and just one other run.
"That made us more determined," Rowe said of the so-so start. "We knew we could do it. The defense stayed strong and we did the job with the bats. I was more nervous at the start, but settled down."
And now that state trip the Pioneers believed all year they would make is now reality.
"We've worked hard," Rowe said. "Getting back (to the state) was our main goal. We made it."
SISSONVILLE -- 200 000 0 -- 2 7 2
WAYNE 303 010 x -- 7 8 3
Baldwin, Haynes (3) and Linville; Rowe and Thompson.
Hitting: (S) Jordan 3B, Johnson 2 RBI; (W) Watts 2-3, 3B; Endicott HR, 2 RBI; A. Maynard 3-3, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI; Thompson RBI, T. Maynard RBI, Fetty RBI.