WIRT TRIPS CATHOLIC IN FINALS - Reprint From Charleston Gazette


By Jim Workman

BUFFALO - This year's Class A Region 2 representative in the state softball tournament will sport a dugout full of fresh faces in Summersville.

Unranked Wirt County knocked off No. 10 Charleston Catholic 4-0 Monday in the regional final to earn a trip to the state tournament. The Tigers (12-15) will face No. 8 Montcalm Friday at 10:30 a.m. in their first game of the double-elimination format.

"We're happy," said Wirt County coach Jon Townsend, whose team has enjoyed a postseason revival of sorts. "We've never been to the states. We had only won a sectional game about five years ago."

Wirt took advantage of errors and other Irish miscues to score all four runs in the fourth inning.

Amanda Burton led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jessica Boice followed with a walk. Both runners advanced on a passed ball.

Irish pitcher Christina Orlandi struck out Colleen Lanham looking for the first out.

Heather Wriston then laid down a bunt, and Orlandi fielded the ball cleanly. The pitcher looked the runner back at third, but just as Orlandi turned to throw to first base, Burton broke for home, scoring the first run. A speedy Wriston beat the throw at first, too, in a close play.

Deena Eakle reached on an infield dribbler that the Catholic infield couldn't react to quickly enough, scoring Boice to up the Tiger lead to 2-0.

Rachel Wyer then smacked a liner to right field that bounced off the glove of a charging Tammy Svitek, allowing Wriston and Eackle to score and give Wirt County the 4-0 advantage.

Catholic got out of the inning when Jessica Gillespie lined out to shortstop Kaitlin Mehle, who also threw out Wyer - who was leaning off base - for a double play.

"I figured that it was going to be a close game," said Townsend. "I was surprised we had four runs to work with."

Eackle pitched a complete- game win, striking out six batters and allowing only two Irish hits.

"She's had to carry the load for us all season," said Townsend. "We have 12 wins, and she's responsible for all of them. We came out and played the way we're capable of playing."

Catholic's only hits were a double by Orlandi in the first inning and a single by Svitek in the seventh.

Burton led Wirt with two hits, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Wriston was 1-for-2, while Naddine Hollen went 1-for-3.

Orlandi struck out eight batters, allowing only four hits in the tough-luck loss.

Wirt had dropped a sectional contest to Parkersburg Catholic, but rebounded for four postseason wins and gain the state tourney berth.

"In those four games, we haven't given up an earned run," said Townsend. "We've been playing real good."

The regional final game was originally scheduled for last Friday, with the make-up date on Saturday, but rains pushed the game back until Monday.

"I think the layoff hurt us a lot," said Catholic coach Julian Cooley. "We were gung-ho to play on Friday. But we came out nervous today, especially the young girls. They [Wirt] came out loose and were better prepared mentally than we were. We just didn't hit well. We had one bad inning that got us

"We have a young team, so we'll have a good program over the next couple of years," Cooley said. "We have some good girls to build on."

Rain began falling shortly after the conclusion of the game.

"We're hoping that they'll get the tournament in this week," Townsend said.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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