Patriots keep eyes on deep run in Class AAA softball tournament | Newspaper

CHARLES TOWN – The last few seasons of softball have been filled with uncertainties: will teams be able to play? What restrictions will be put in place? How many players will come out for the team?

However, a few constants have remained in softball around West Virginia. Washington and Hurricane have both remained staples of the state tournament, with Hurricane winning the last five state championships, the most recent in 2019.

This year, however, there will be a new state champion, and the Patriots have remained in the mix. Washington is set to make its fourth consecutive appearance in a state-class AAA tournament and is in the middle of a 17-game winning streak.

Washington coach Amanda Orkoskey said she was thrilled to see a new state champion crowned, feeling good about the Patriots’ ability to pull through.

“I’m not telling all the teams, but I told them, ‘It’s different this year,'” she said, adding that the team knew they were capable. “The only thing we need to control is our nerves. “

In a strange place like what could be considered “underdogs” this season, Orkoskey never underestimated a group of talented athletes who she knew would continue to follow Washington. Only two players had donned a Patriot jersey before, but due to injury, only Brittany Cenate had actually seen the playing time.

“It was a difficult start. We must have had some tough conversations at the start, ”Orkoskey said. “We practically had to restart the program. We certainly did not expect this. However, we knew what we were capable of and set our standards high. “

Washington opens the tournament today against Cabell Midland, and while the two teams haven’t seen any common opponents this season, both have proven to be powerhouses on the plate. Washington has dominated teams 250-42 this season, while the Knights have dominated teams 293-140.

The key to the Patriots has been a good balance of attacking prowess and stingy defense. As a team, Washington reached .315, led by juniors Cenate and Cam Noland at .484 and .483, respectively. The pair are among five hitters swinging over .300 this season with another grip just on the mark.

More than power, the Patriots relied on the clutch offense, seven players with double-digit RBIs including Carly Crowder (20), Maddy Ruffner (24), Cenate (24) and Noland (35) in head. Couple in Cenate’s speed and 25 stolen bases, and the young Washington team showcase their prowess on the court with a high IQ in softball.

“We have the power potential when we need it,” Orkoskey said, nodding towards the homers in a recent game against Hedgesville that helped seal the victory. “Really, it’s consistency and lifting each other up.”

Twenty-three team mistakes this season have shown Washington’s youth but also their skills, able to overcome those mistakes to come away with a 25-3 record so far in the season. The 15 players have a roster percentage of 0.800 or better, led by five who have been perfect during their time on the pitch.

With the defense backing a strong pitching staff led by Ruffner, Washington has been dynamic with a young rotation. Ruffner, a sophomore, is 16-1 with just a 0.59 ERA and 205 strikeouts, while freshmen Crowder and Taylor Decker are 5-2 and 2, respectively. -0.

“Incredibly excited to see how we’re doing this week,” Orkoskey said, adding that she trusted Ruffner, as well as Crowder and Decker to come in when needed.

Midland also arrives with his own talent, an attack that produces.

The Knights have nine batters over 0.300, including Reilly Lucas leading the team to 0.530 in 100 batting appearances. Lucas hit 39 points and made 13 homers on 28 extra base hits. The senior comes in with an experience that gave her patience at home plate, also leading Midland with 25 walks.

“I think we’re pretty much tied,” Orkoskey said. “It will depend on who wants it, who prepares for it and who comes to play.”

From a field perspective, the Knights are tight, little room for error in their gameplay, and they are led into the circle by a young duo, with junior Jess Terry and rookie Quinn Ballengee each recording nine wins this season. season. Ballengee hasn’t lost in his 17 appearances, while Terry is 9-3. Respectively, they come in with ERAs of 3.25 and 2.27 and strikeouts of 63 and 132.

It’s one more chance to prove that Washington is a team to beat and a program to be reckoned with, a chance to not only make the playoffs but also make some noise in the playoffs.

“A lot of people have excluded us, because we are young,” Orkoskey said. “I’m proud of them to prove them wrong. It’s time to prove everyone wrong.

The first game between Washington and Midland (27-9) is tentatively scheduled for 12:15 today, while John Marshall (21-5-3) faces St. Albans (30-1) in the other first round. Thu. Championship action is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

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