Balls

The road to Vienna for the WVSSAC State Softball Tournament begins with section tournament play around the state tonight.

Double-elimination softball section tournaments commence tonight around the area.

Wyoming East has the top seed in the Class AA Region 3, Section 1 tournament. Independence is No. 2, followed by No. 3 Liberty, No. 4 Westside and No. 5 Oak Hill.

Action begins Monday, April 29. No. 5 Oak Hill (15-10) will face No. 4 Westside at 5:30 p.m. tonight at Wyoming East, with the winner to face the top-seeded Warriors at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Oak Hill head coach John McGinnis said his team has settled more into a groove as the season progressed. "Early in the season, we were moving kids around to fit our defense," he said. An injury to top pitcher Haylee Byers created some temporary problems, too.

"We're hitting the ball better now," he said. "I'm very pleased with the way we're playing right now.

"I'm very confident in this group of girls. We've got as good a chance as any."

After 22 games, Savannah Holbrook was guiding the Oak Hill offense with a .558 batting average (29 hits in 52 at-bats). The junior lefty had stroked six home runs and seven doubles and driven in 25 runs. Byers, a sophomore, was batting .473 with four homers, seven doubles, two triples and 22 RBIs. Next in line was Brooke Linkswiler, who was hitting .417 (25-for-60) with four doubles and 12 RBIs.

Also for Oak Hill, Kylie Pelkey was batting .353 (18-for-51) with eight doubles, and Kaylee Mann was hitting .283 (17-for-60) with seven doubles and 13 RBIs.

On the mound for the Red Devils, Byers had fashioned a 7-4 record in that span with an ERA of 4.113 in 64.2 innings. Whitney Sisler was 6-4 with a 3.615 ERA in 40.2 innings.

Also on April 29 at 5:30 p.m., No. 2 Independence will tangle with No. 3 Liberty at Independence. That survivor will play either Wyoming East or the Oak Hill/Westside survivor at 7:30 p.m. on April 30 at Independence. That contest will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. losers' bracket game in Coal City.

Weather permitting, games will continue May 1-3 at Coal City, with the potential championship game set for 6 p.m. on May 3.

• • •

Following are seedings and first-round pairings for Class A Region 3, Section 1:

1. Valley

2. Midland Trail

3. Fayetteville

4. Richwood

5. Charleston Catholic

6. Webster County

7. Pocahontas County

Monday, April 29, 6 p.m.

▪ Pocahontas County at Midland Trail

▪ Webster County at Fayetteville

▪ Charleston Catholic at Richwood

Tuesday, April 30, 6 p.m.

▪ Valley vs. Charleston Catholic/Richwood winner at Gauley Bridge

As the postseason arrives, Valley head coach Marty Carver expects his team to be up to the challenge of being the No. 1 seed.

"The season's been up and down; we've had some good wins, we've had some close losses," said Carver. "It just depends really on which team wants to show up and play.

"I had one night that Trail beat us, beat us good, gave us a whipping. ... Going into the sectionals, I think we're ready. We can give anybody a good game, and anybody can beat us. We're vulnerable, too. We have our spots.

"We're just hoping the weather holds off and we can get it in. Once you get started, it needs to roll."

Midland Trail head coach Candace Young's team heads into this week with a 15-8 record. Her team lost to both Valley (8-3) and Fayetteville (13-3) earlier in the season, only to bounce back with a 19-1 shellacking of the Greyhounds and, just last week, an 11-3 win over Fayetteville.

"We played them (Fayetteville) early and looked bad," said Young. "The fact that we were able to come back and beat them this go-round was rewarding."

"For us, it's whichever team shows up," Young added. "We've got potential.

"When we do show up, we're tough to beat."

Kyleigh Jackson is "really hitting the ball," said Young, and Taylor Harrell and Meghan Gill "have had to shoulder a lot this year" on the mound. "I just hope we show up and do the little things."

Through 21 games, Jackson was batting .491 (26-for-53) with nine doubles, two triples, a home run and 19 RBIs. In 10 games, Gill hit at a .579 clip with four doubles and eight RBIs. Other key contributors have included Faith Bailes (.370, 18 RBIs), Chezney Skaggs (.339, 11 RBIs) and Zavery McManaway (.302, 11 RBIs).

First-year Fayetteville head coach Mike Roles says that, while struggling with injuries, his team is jelling at the right time.

"We've kind of fought injuries here in the last month," Roles said. "We've been short-handed at times.

"We've played well at times and not well at times. Here in the last month overall we've come together a whole lot better (as a team)."

A tough schedule featuring many games against Class AA programs should have helped prepare his girls, Roles said. "We've been working toward the sectionals. Our real season starts then."

Fayetteville (7-18) is seeking its second straight state tournament appearance.

• • •

Following are first-round pairings for Class A Region 3, Section 2 (all games at Montcalm):

▪ Game 1: Meadow Bridge vs. Mount View, 4:30 p.m.

▪ Game 2: Summers County vs. Montcalm, (15 min. after Game 1)

▪ Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, (15 min. after Game 2).

Email: skeenan@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @gb_scribe

This Week's Circulars