WHEELING - Wheeling Park did it the hard way.
After dropping their opener 8-6 on Tuesday, the Patriots battled back to win two Wednesday to claim the West Virginia Class AAA, Region One, Section One softball championship at Lisa's Field at the I-470 Complex.
Park won the first game, 3-2, to force a deciding third game. The Patriots used four straight errors and three hits to plate six runs and win the nightcap, 7-0.
"I think losing the first game woke us up," Wheeling Park coach Dee Davis said after the championship game victory.
"It was a total team effort. We hit the ball. We played good defense and we got two outstanding pitching performances (from Skyler Carrington and Carly Greer)."
They also made a strategic move that paid off.
For the first time this season Davis swapped the positions of Kelsi Johnson and Kat Donzella, placing Johnson at shortstop and Donzella to third base.
"We worked with them (on an adjacent field) right before the game and I think it paid off," Davis said. "Both played well, and I thought our defense was outstanding."
Neither made an error in either game.
Donzella, a freshman, sparkled in Game 1, ripping a two-out double to the gap in right-center field to plate two runs, which gave the Patriots a lead. In the top of the sixth, with the score tied at 2-2, she scored on a strange play that turned out to be the game-winner. After Donzella had a one-out double, her second of the game, Keleigh Sidon was hit by a pitch. Sarah Long then singled, but Sidon caught Donzella at third. The relay back to third was thrown away and Donzella scored just ahead of the throw to the plate.
"Donzella did a great job knocking in runs and scoring a huge run in the sixth," Davis said. "Nice to see that from a freshman."
Brooke loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth on a pair of walks and a base hit but Carrington (four strikeouts, three walks) was able to get out of that jam. Again, in the seventh, the scrappy Bruins put two on with two outs but Carrington induced a groundout to end the game.
The Bruins stranded 10 runners in the game, six in the final three innings.
Brooke took the lead in the first, when Sabrina Duffy Brette Geary and Michaela Hinerman started the game with three straight singles. Taylor Simala reached on an error allowing Duffy to score but Carrington got out of the inning with a pop up to first base and two strikeouts.
After Donzella gave Park the lead, Brooke scored the equalizer on Geary's triple and a run-scoring single by Hinerman.
In the second game, Park sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six times in the fourth to take command of the title.
Colleen Tracy, Carrington and Morgan Karnell all reached on errors and eventually scored.
The big one came when a throw was made to first but nobody was covering the bag allowing Cara Freshwater, a courtesy runner for Tracy, and Karnell to score.
Kelsi Johnson Carly Greer (double) and Donzella had RBI hits to add to the carnage in the inning.
That would be all that Greer would need.
A strikeout and flyout helped her escape trouble in the fourth and then Park scored to put the game away.
Wheeling Park (16-5), the Class AAA state runnerup last year, will face the Parkersburg/Parkersburg South winner in the Region I semifinals Thursday, May 15.
W.Va. Class AAA Region I, Section I
Wheeling Park 3, Brooke 2
Wheeling Park002 001 0 - 3 7 1
Brooke100 010 0 - 2 9 0
W- Carrington wp (4 SO, 3W) and A.Sidon. Greer 2S; Donzella 2D, 2rbi.
B - Carpenter lp (1SO, 0W) and Preston. Duffy 2S; Geary T, S; Hnerman 2S, rbi; Simala S rbi.
Wheeling Park 7, Brooke 0
Brooke000 000 0 - 0 5 6
Wheeling Park 000 601 x - 7 11 0
B - Kuckinski lp (2SO, 0W) and Preston. Geary 3S.
W - Greer wp (5SO, 4W) and A.Sidon. Kel.Johnson 2S, rbi; Greer D, S, rbi; A.Sidon T, S; Donzella S, 2rbi; Karnell 2S.