WEIRTON - The Weir and Oak Glen softball teams hooked up for a doubleheader Wednesday at Weir High School to begin a best-of-three series for the West Virginia Class AA Region 1, Section 1 title.
There will be no need for Game 3 after Weir claimed a 12-11 victory in Game 1 and then secured the championship trophy with a much-less- exciting 17-2, five-inning decision in the nightcap.
"It is just absolutely great," said Weir head coach Dave Hinerman. "The first game told the whole story. We had a big lead, let it go, and we fought back and I think when we scored in the bottom of the seventh that broke their back for the remainder of the next game."
CHAMPIONS — The Weir High softball team is the West Virginia Region 1, Section 1 champions with a doubleheader sweep over Hancock County rival Oak Glen, 12-11 and 17-2, on Wednesday.
-- Fred Younce
The Red Riders led 10-3 after five innings in the opener only to find themselves down 11-10 after five and a half as the Golden Bears put up a robust eight runs in the top of the sixth.
"They showed everything they showed all season," said Oak Glen head coach Michelle McHaffie. "They fought until the very end. Even at the end of the second game they were there cheering for their team. That's the way they've been all season. I thought maybe we'd pull through in the first game, but Weirton fought back and beat us in the end.
"They're fighters though."
The combo of Danica Rasicci and Taylor Gianangeli tied the game at 11 for Weir in the bottom of the sixth with Rasicci drawing a walk and taking second on a passed ball, before Gianangeli sent her home with a double.
After relief pitcher Abbie Pratt, who picked up the win in both games, held Oak Glen scoreless in the top half of the seventh the Red Riders went right back to business.
Meikka Buffo beat out a bunt single with one out and then stole second. Haley McLaughlin then drew a walk to put two on for Caitlyn Fodor, who became an instant hero with a shot that brought home Buffo for the 12-11 game one win. Fodor's hit was ruled an RBI double, though it was easily a three-run inside-the-park home run had it not been a walk off hit.
"We have lost five games in the last 10 days by one run and I said God just get us into the fifth inning because that's been our bad inning," said Hinerman. "We got out of that and had a bad sixth inning. Both games came down to us winning the first game in the seventh inning. I just can't say enough about my team."
The Red Riders used the momentum gained at the finish of game one to come out on fire in game two.
Batting as the visitors in the top of the first, Weir exploded for 10 runs and never looked back. In all, eight Weir players scored in the frame with five driving in runs.
With the score 12-2 heading into the fourth, Weir ensured there'd be no extending of the game past five innings with a five-run barrage to make it 17-2.
Weir received production from a host of players in the doubleheader with Buffo picking up six singles, three RBIs and seven runs scored; McLaughlin adding three singles, five RBIs and five runs; Fodor having a double, two singles, five RBIs and three runs; Rasicci contributing two doubles, a single, two RBIs and five runs; and Gianangeli chipping in with three singles, a double, five RBIs and a run scored.
For Oak Glen, Jordan Cunningham had a three-run home run and a single, Marissa Murray had two doubles and two singles, Casey Patterson had a solo home run with Tia Smith and Tayler Maxwell each adding three singles.
The Red Riders advance to meet Magnolia in the West Virginia Class AA Region 1 final next week.
"We aren't going to rest on our laurels," said Hinerman. "We have a tough game next week with Magnolia. They're the real deal and we're going to do our best to beat them."
Oak Glen's season came to an end with the two losses.
"I'm losing three wonderful kids," said McHaffie. "They've brought the team together all year. I can't say enough about the three girls. The camaraderie on this team is just unbelievable and it's just a shame they can't use it to push them over the edge to keep playing because they're probably one of the best teams I've ever coached."
Weir 12, Oak Glen 11
Oak Glen 110 018 0 - 11 9 6
Weir 300 611 1 - 12 12 6
OAK GLEN: Cunningham (LP, 3K, 4BB) and Pryor. Maxwell r; Patterson hr, 2r; Murray 2s, d, r; Maxwell 2s, 2r; Cool s; Cunningham 3-run hr, s, 2r; McPherson r; Smith r; Vega r;
WEIR: Dibacco (WP, 5K, 4BB), Pratt (WP, 6th, 0K, 0BB) and Buffo. Buffo 3s, 4r; McLaughlin s, 2rbi, 2r; Fodor d, s, 4rbi, r; Rasicci d, s, rbi, 3r; Gianangeli s, d, 2rbi; Drizake s; Rice s, r; Shingle r.
Weir 17, Oak Glen 2
Weir (10) 20 50 - 17 15 1
Oak Glen 1 10 00 - 2 6 3
WEIR: Pratt (WP, 3K, 2BB) and Buffo. Buffo 3s, 3rbi, 3r; McLaughlin 2s, 3rbi, 3r ; Fodor s, rbi, 2r; Rasicci d, rbi, 2r; Gianangeli 2s, 2rbi, r; Drizake s, r; Karavanic 2s, 2rbi, r; Rosnick s, 3r; Shingle 2s, r.
OAK GLEN: Murray (LP, 0K, 2BB), Cunningham (1st, 3K, 2BB) and Pryor. Maxwell s, r; Smith 3s, rbi; Murray d, r; Cool s, rbi.