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Local teams sweep state titles

May. 24, 2013 @ 11:40 PM

HUNTINGTON -- There was no doubt what area of the state had the best high school softball in the 2013 season after the state tournament.

Region IV earned the state championships in all three classes this week at Jackson Park in Vienna, W.Va., showing dominance that hasn't been seen at the state level in quite some time.

Hurricane players and head coach Josh Caldwell were getting their first-ever experience in Class AAA state tournament competition. What they found out was the quest to reach the state tournament through Region IV proved to be more difficult than getting the state title.

After going to three games against Lincoln County in the sectional tournament, Hurricane earned a 6-5 win over Cabell Midland in a Region IV semifinal then a 2-0 win over St. Albans in the Region IV final.

Other than an opening 2-1 win over Wheeling Park, the Redskins were never threatened in Class AAA.

Hurricane's Courtney Rogers praised the competition of Region IV for preparing the Redskins for their first state title.

"We beat the top teams in the state, so we knew we could beat those teams, too," Rogers said.

The same could be said for Wayne in Class AA, which earned its second consecutive state title, and a Buffalo team that made it three straight Class A titles.

Buffalo became the first team in history to win the state tournament by scoring only three runs in a trio of 1-0 shutouts.

In 19 of the final 22 games for Buffalo, the Bison allowed one run or fewer en route to the title.

Just how dominant was Region IV overall? Try these facts on for size.

Region IV teams went a perfect 9-0 in the state tournament, outscoring opponents 44-8.

At the end of every inning of state tournament play, a Region IV team never trailed.

The only half-inning in which a Region IV team trailed was at the end of the top of the first in Wayne's 5-1 win over James Monroe. The Pioneers allowed an unearned run in the frame, but scored two in the bottom of the inning.

Wayne outscored its opponents 23-3 in the three games of state tournament play, defeating James Monroe 5-1 and 14-1 and Ritchie County 4-1.

Wayne shortstop Jessica Watts said the competition in Class AA's Region IV, which included Scott, Chapmanville, Sissonville and Herbert Hoover, made it harder for the Pioneers to get to the state tournament than to win it.

Pioneers head coach Tish Smith agreed and said it shows a bit of a flaw in the postseason system that allows one team from each region, but does not necessarily send the state's best competition to Vienna.

"I wish they would go to eight teams and take two from each region so it could play out," Smith said. "Our girls were more excited about winning the region title than the state title.

"I don't think that's the goal of a state championship."

The only thing that could be scarier than the success of Region IV in this year's tournament might be looking ahead to the future.

All three teams feature dominant pitching -- Rogers for Hurricane, Wayne' Jessie Rowe and Buffalo's tandem of Chelsey Parkins and Ali Burdette.

Every single one of them will return to the field in 2014.

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