Wayne repeats as champions
VIENNA, W.Va. -- Wayne's Jessie Rowe watched second baseman Jacey Parsons toss the ball on to Tasha Maynard at first base for the final out Thursday and did something she hadn't done all week.
The junior pitcher was dominant throughout the state softball tournament and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning Thursday to lead Wayne in a 5-1 win over James Monroe for its second consecutive Class AA state championship at Jackson Park.
"I don't know what to say," Rowe said. "I just get in the zone. We controlled the game pretty well. We knew what to expect and we knew what we had to do. It was just a matter of doing it."
This state title came about in much less dramatic fashion than the team's first title in 2012 when they had to win three games on the final day to knock off Ritchie County.
On this day, it would only take Wayne one game to finish off an impressive postseason run in which the Pioneers won each game by three runs or more.
Rowe took a no-hitter down to the final out before James Monroe's Samantha Ferguson doubled with two outs in the top of the seventh inning to break it up.
The Pioneers' hurler finished the game allowing two hits while striking out five.
"You can sleep a lot better when you put the ball in Jessie Rowe's hands," Wayne coach Tish Smith said. "Nothing shakes her. She got called for illegal pitches (Wednesday) and she just never wavered. It just kind of made her mad and made her buckle down even more."
With Rowe continuing her strong streak in the circle, the Pioneers needed to just muster offense against James Monroe pitcher Mikayla Wickline.
That came in the form of Kasey Endicott, who -- aside from Rowe -- was been the Pioneers' biggest postseason threat.
Endicott produced runs in each of her three at-bats. Her final plate appearance punctuated the season when she took Wickline deep to left field for a home run that set the final score.
The sophomore slugger added an RBI sacrifice fly in the first inning and another one in the third to finish the day with three RBIs.
"She's absolutely been clutch this year with her bat and her defense," Smith said of Endicott, who is also the team's third baseman. "We can't ask any more out of that girls than what we have. I'm glad that we are going to have her two more years."
James Monroe, who earned the championship berth by upsetting Ritchie County, 2-1, in the day's first elimination game, jumped on the board first following a pair of Wayne errors in the top of the first inning.
However, the Pioneers answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead. Jacey Parsons had an RBI single to score Jessica Watts before Endicott's first RBI sacrifice fly brought Parsons home for the advantage.
Wayne tacked on another pair of runs in the third as Watts and Parsons came home again -- this time on Endicott's sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Allie Maynard.
The contest was much closer than the team's meeting Wednesday night when Wayne defeated the Mavericks, 14-1.
As has been the case for much of the season, however, teams weren't able to scrape runs together against Rowe and the Pioneers' defense, which went the final six innings without a blemish after the two miscues in the first inning.
"Pitching and defense," Smith said. "If you have defense behind your pitcher, you can win it. For the last two years, Jessie has been dominant in the circle and our defense has won us championships. We couldn't be more pumped about it."
Wayne outscored the opposition 23-3 in three state tournament games and completed a Region IV sweep of softball titles this season. Hurricane clinched its first-ever title in Class AAA while Buffalo earned its three-peat in Class A just minutes prior to the Pioneers finishing off the win over James Monroe.
JAMES MONROE 100 000 0 -- 1 2 2
WAYNE 202 010 x -- 5 5 2
Wickline and Gillespie. Rowe and Thompson.
Hitting (JM) Ferguson 2B; (W) Endicott HR, 3 RBIs; Parsons RBI; Perry 2B; A. Maynard RBI.