State tournament opens
VIENNA, W.Va. -- Two area high school teams in the West Virginia state softball tournament are looking to continue the tradition they built last year as state champions.
One other team is looking to build tradition in its first state tournament appearance.
Regardless of the scenario, emotions and excitement are high for this week's tournament scheduled to begin Wednesday morning and run through Thursday at the Rosemar Softball Complex at Jackson Park.
In Class AAA, Hurricane will be making its first appearance after earning a hard-fought regional win over St. Albans.
The Redskins have had no easy path to the state tournament, going through three Top 10 teams to get there -- Lincoln County in the sectional, Cabell Midland in the regional semifinal and St. Albans in the region final.
With last year's champion John Marshall falling to Wheeling Park in the region finals, the door is wide open for the Redskins to step into the limelight and give Region IV its eighth state championship in the last nine years.
Hurricane (30-6) starts the tournament with a 9:30 a.m. game against Wheeling Park (20-5) -- the first game of the 2013 tournament.
In both Class AA and A, Wayne and Buffalo have had the target on their backs as the teams to take down since earning titles in 2012.
Wayne (26-6), which defeated Sissonville 7-3 in the Class AA, Region IV final, gets a rematch of last year's title matchup right out of the gate when they meet Ritchie County at 10 a.m. on Field 2.
The Pioneers return nearly all of last year's championship team including pitcher Jessie Rowe and the tandem of Kasey Endicott and Marshall University recruit Jessica Watts. Endicott also leads the team in home runs (8) and RBIs (37).
In Class A, Buffalo is looking for its third consecutive title under head coach Darrell Moore. The Bison have a lethal pair of arms in Chelsey Parkins and Alli Burdette to lead the way.
Buffalo (31-4) has lost just once to a Class A team all season -- an 11-9 loss to Wheeling Central early in the year. Buffalo and Wheeling Central (21-8) renew acquaintances Wednesday in the first round at 9:45 a.m.
The tournament is double elimination and, barring rain, the championships are scheduled to start at 2 p.m.,Thursday.