Pryor powers Bears to regional

WEIRTON – Ashley Pryor did what she does best.

Pryor, who is one of three seniors on the Oak Glen softball team this season, produced the power needed to give the Golden Bears a sectional title.

Pryor ended up with 15 total bases on the day to lead Oak Glen to a sweep on May 8 at Weir in the West Virginia Class AA Region 1 Section 1 Tournament. Pryor produced five hits – all for extra bases – to lead the Golden Bears to their second-straight sectional championship.

Oak Glen won the opener, 4-3, before winning the nightcap, 10-1, in five innings.

On the day, Pryor belted two home runs, two doubles and a triple to go along with three RBI.

“Ashley is an all-around athlete,” first-year Oak Glen head coach Morgan Martin said. “She is a good student. She is a good person. She is a leader. She works hard. She is always putting in extra work on the side. She produces. She makes good plays in the field, and she comes up with big hits for us at the plate.

“She hit a couple of big home runs for us. It was great to see her put a couple over the fence.”

The home runs were the first two of Pryor’s career.

“I’ve never hit one before,” she said. “I was in pure awe.”

Against the Red Riders, Pryor belted a two-run home run and two doubles in the Golden Bears’ Game 1 victory. She smacked a solo home run and a triple in the Game 2 win.

In Game 1, Pryor launched a two-run home run scoring Logan Andrews to give the Golden Bears a 3-0 advantage in the top of the first inning.

In Game 2, Pryor ripped a home run down the left field line to spark’s the Golden Bears’ six-run third inning. Pryor led off the inning with her blast.

With the wins over Weir, Oak Glen (17-10) has advanced to the regional semifinals. Oak Glen will play at 5 p.m. today at Ritchie County. Ritchie County (23-4) defeated Roane County, 2-1, and Ravenswood, 5-0, to win the Region 1 Section 2 title.

It will be the second-straight season the Golden Bears and Rebels will meet in the regional tournament.

Ritchie County won last year’s matchup, 2-0, at Oak Glen. The loss ended the Golden Bears’ season at 8-19.

The Rebels last won a state title in 2011. The Golden Bears won their only state title back in 1998.

Pryor primarily plays third base for the Golden Bears, but has also played catcher.

“I make pretty-accurate throws,” she said. “I’m usually peppy. I get the team pumped up. I am always positive.”

Not only did Pryor produce at the plate against the Red Riders, but she also played strong defense.

At times, Oak Glen struggled defensively against Weir in the doubleheader, but the girls from Northern Hancock County found way to make the plays when they needed to to secure the victories.

“We battle,” Pryor said. “If we make a mistake, we just brush it off our shoulders like pixie dust. We knock it off, and we put it behind us.”

The Oak Glen players always do what is best to help the team win and be successful.

“They play as a team,” Martin said. “They always pick each other up. The girls believe in themselves, they believe in each other and they believe in the team. I think our teamwork is our biggest strength. It is our most important strength.”

The Golden Bears jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first game against the Red Riders before holding off a late charge to win the game. In Game 2, Oak Glen took a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Weir plated a run in the home half of the inning to pull within, 3-1, but the Golden Bears gained control with their six-run third.

“It means a lot,” Pryor said about winning the sectional title. “The team came together. It feels good. We fight. It feels awesome to win it again.”

For Pryor and fellow seniors Emilee Phillips and Mykelti McGaffic, winning the sectional title this season was even sweeter than last year because this is their last go-round with the team.

“I think it feels better this year than last year,” Pryor said. “Last year, you say there is always next year, but this year, being a senior, this was it.”