WEIRTON – Two home runs. Two wins. Two sectional titles.
Senior Ashley Pryor belted a home run in each game, freshman Hannah Clunk picked up the win in both games as the Oak Glen softball team defeated Weir, 4-3, and 10-1 (in five innings) to sweep a doubleheader to win its second-straight West Virginia Class AA Region 1 Section 1 title Thursday evening at Weir.
“It means a lot,” first-year Oak Glen (17-10) head coach Morgan Martin said. “It shows that hard work does pay off. The girls were passionate and intense. They wanted to win these games.
“We talked after the last game. We want to move forward, and show what we are made of.”
The sectional title was Martin’s first as a head coach. Martin won multiple sectional titles at Weir as an all-state pitcher.
Oak Glen will now play in the Region 1 semifinals next week. The Golden Bears’ opponent as well as the time, date and location of the game has yet to be determined.
The Golden Bears scored runs in each of the first two innings of each game to gain an early advantage.
“In the first game, we showed a lot to bounce back,” Weir (5-16) head coach Dave Hinerman said. “I’m not blaming it on the call, but that was a crucial part of the game. The kids were upset by it, and I don’t think we regained our composure.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Oak Glen. They beat us in the first game, and they put it on us in the second game.
“I wish Oak Glen all the luck in the world. Morgan Martin has done a great job with her team. I wish her, the Oak Glen team and the coaches all the best going forward.
“We are going to work in the summer. In June, you have got three weeks to work with the kids. We are going to work with the kids coming up from the middle school as well as the kids we have coming back. We are going to work on some things.
“Our kids never quit.”
Clunk struck out nine and walked one in her nine innings on the day to record the two wins. She struck out seven and walked one in seven innings inside the circle in Game 1. She followed that performance up by striking two without issuing a free in two innings.
Logan Andrews replaced Clunk. Andrews struck out five while not walking a batter in her three innings of relief work.
“I think it is important to have more than one pitcher available in a doubleheader,” Martin said. “We always have more than one ready to go. The girls have confidence in all of our pitchers. We rely on our pitchers to do their jobs, and they do it well.”
Pryor swung the big stick for the Golden Bears. She reached base six times and produced five hits in seven at-bats. Pryor recorded two doubles, a triple and two home runs to go along with three RBI. She also reached on an error.
The Golden Bears finished Game 1 with eight hits.
Pryor and company continued to swing hot bats in the second game.
This time around, Pryor pounded out a triple and a solo home run and Andrews delivered a two-run single.
Abbey Pratt took the loss in both games for the Red Riders. Pratt totaled three strikeouts and one walk in her nine-plus innings of work on the mound. Pratt struck out one while not walking a batter while going the distance in the first game. She struck out two and issued one free pass in her two-plus innings of work in the nightcap.
Mariah Stevens replaced Pratt in the third inning of Game 2. Stevens ended up striking out three and walking a pair.
“Abbey will be a senior next year,” Hinerman said. “She pitched a lot of games for us. She learned a lot. Maria Stevens did everything we could ask. We put her all over the field. She did whatever was best for the team.”
Offensively, the Red Riders were limited to five hits on the day. Jillian Karavanic contributed a single and two RBI to lead the way for Weir on the day.
In Game 1, Sam Tate tallied a run-scoring single and Karavanic collected an RBI.
In Game 2, Karavanic contributed a run-scoring single, and Stevens ended up with a double.
The Golden Bears plated three runs in the top of the first in Game 1 to gain the early momentum.
With one out, Mykelti McGaffic and Mikayla Crane contributed back-to-back singles, and McGaffic scored on a double down the left-field line by Andrews to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Crane attempted to score on the play, but she was thrown out at the plate.
Next, Pryor belted a two-run home run in left-center to give Oak Glen a 3-0 advantage.
The Golden Bears tacked on what proved to be a much-needed insurance run in the second. Young grounded out to plate Emilee Phillips, who led off the inning by reaching on error to increase the Golden Bears lead to 4-0.
The Red Riders cut into their deficit in the third.
With one out, Marlee Harris singled and eventually scored on a base hit by Tate making the score 4-1.
Weir recorded two runs in the sixth, but the Red Riders hoped for more. With two runners on base, Stevens lofted a fly ball into the grass behind shortstop. Andrews, who played shortstop in the first game, ran out to make a play on the ball. She spun around, and the ball came down and hit her in the face.
She dropped to the ground injured as the Red Riders ran the bases, but all was not as it seemed. Stevens ended up being called out via the infield fly rule. Tate, who was one second base, scored when the ball was dropped, but Ashlynn Drizake had to go back to third base.
Next, Karavanic grounded out to second to score Drizake making the score 4-3, but the girls from southern Hancock County did not score again.
The Golden Bears plated a pair of runs in the top of the first inning in Game 2.
Maryssa Durante doubled to start the game, and McGaffic followed with a base hit. With one out, Andrews singled up the middle scoring Durante and McGaffic to make the score 2-0.
The Red Riders answered with a run of their own in the home half of the inning. Stevens doubled and scored on a base hit by Karavanic.
The victors got the run back in the second.
Phillips singled, and she came around to score on a single by Crane making the score 3-1.
The Golden Bears broke the game open with a six-run third inning.
Pryor got the ball rolling with a solo home run down the left-field line making the score 4-1, and Oak Glen did not look back.
“This is something that will give the girls confidence,” Martin said. “We fought hard. If we continue to work hard, anything is doable. In the second game, we got the bats out, and we capitalized.”
The game was the final one for Weir’s four seniors – Drizake, Karavanic, Kelly Lemasters and Morgan Rice.
“Ashlynn Drizake is as good of a shortstop as there is in the OVAC,” Hinerman said. “She is as good as any shortstop in the state in our class without a doubt. You don’t replace her. You just try to fill the void. She made plays all over this field.
“I wish all of our seniors well. They are all excellent athletes and excellent students. I think Ashlynn may be the only one to play college ball.
“I think Morgan Rice is going to Fairmont State. Kelly is going to be a nurse. Jillian is going to be in the Navy. She has done everything. She is going to be leaving in September.
“This is the first year Kelly started.
“I think the one person who did the most for the team is Sam Tate. She caught every inning of every game for us this season.”