AP NEWS

Hurricane pounds GW, 9-0

May 23, 2019

VIENNA, W.Va. — Hurricane softball head coach Meghan Stevens didn’t need to remind her team of who the opponent was in Wednesday night’s state tournament winner’s bracket game.

The Redskins were well aware they were facing George Washington, who handed them two of their six losses on the year.

Hurricane used those two losses as motivation, starting quick and using a four-run third inning to earn a convincing 9-0 win in six innings over the Patriots, which places the Redskins in the Class AAA championship game Thursday at Jackson Memorial Park.

“We’ve been champing at the bit to play them again,” Stevens said. “When we didn’t make MSACs (Mountain State Athletic Conference playoffs), we said, ‘No worries. To face them again, we have to make the state tournament.’ We

knew we didn’t play our best softball against them early in the year.”

The win moves Hurricane (32-6) into the championship game where the Redskins will play for their fifth straight Class AAA title. George Washington (31-7) will attempt for a rematch with the Redskins, but they have to defeat Washington in an elimination game Thursday morning to get there.

George Washington coach Kim Darby said the Redskins’ fire was evident from the beginning, but the confidence she has in her team’s ability to rally back on Thursday has not wavered.

“These girls don’t do anything easy,” Darby said. “I’ve coached the seniors for seven years and they don’t do it easy. I’m not shocked one bit that we have to do it the hard way, but they know what’s at stake and I think they’ll come out a little different tomorrow once they re-focus. It’s Championship Day, so if we have the right day, we’ll see what happens.”

Caiti Mathes delivered two big blows for Hurricane, ripping an RBI double down the left-field line to jump start a four-run third inning when the Redskins took control. She added a 250-foot home run bomb to center field — her 22nd of the season — to punctuate the victory.

“When they beat us, we said, ‘Win when it matters,’” Mathes said. “That’s what we did tonight.”

On a team full of state tournament experience, it was a player in her first day at the state tournament who set the tone for the win.

Freshman Alivia Meeks led off the game with a solo homer over the center-field fence, which Mathes and Stevens each said was big to calm down the Redskins and settle the game in.

“It definitely got us hyped,” Mathes said. “She set the tone and we just kept on rolling with it.”

Stevens said it was a big spot for a freshman who has had plenty on her shoulders in the first year.

“She’s had to fill in big shoes for Jayme Bailey at third base and lead off for us, and she’s embraced that role,” Stevens said. “Her digging in and having that at-bat, it was big.”

The offensive production was enough for pitcher Harlie Vannatter, who continued to tear through the postseason.

Vannatter scattered four hits over five innings while keeping the Patriots’ powerful lineup at bay en route to her second shutout of the day.

HURRICANE 104 22 - 9 10 0

GEORGE WASHINGTON 000 00 - 0 4 0

Vannatter and Dunlap. McCown, Jiminez (5) and Groe.

Hitting: (H) Mathes 2-2, HR, 3 RBI; Dunlap 2-3, 2B, RBI; Meeks HR, RBI; Lyon 2B, RBI; Schultz RBI; McCray RBI. (GW) G. Darnell 1-2; Lacy 1-2; Price 1-2.

Game 1

HURRICANE 8, WHEELING PARK 0 (6 INNINGS): Hurricane’s Reagan Schultz couldn’t be at her brother’s graduation from Columbia University this week, but she wanted to give him a gift that he’d remember.

On Wednesday morning, Schultz cranked a three-run home run to provide the exclamation point on Hurricane’s 8-0 win in the opening game of Class AAA action.

“I thought it was in for sure and I was running hard,” Schultz said. “It felt really good because I hadn’t been too hot lately. Hopefully, this is the start of something.”

Hurricane coach Meghan Stevens said the shot was big for Schultz — the team’s No. 9 hitter, who now has five homers on the year.

“I’m super-proud of her for that because she puts a lot of pressure on herself,” Stevens said. “When she relaxes and goes with the pitch, she’s killer.”

It was the bottom of the Hurricane batting order that got the job done.

The bottom three players in the combined to go 4-for-8 with Schultz’ home run and five runs scored while rolling things over for the top of the order.

The run support was more than enough for pitcher Harlie Vannatter, who allowed just one hit — a single by Wheeling Park’s Lydia Simon in the second inning -- while striking out eight, Wheeling Park had two base runners.

“I just go out and throw,” Vannatter said. “I just try not to overthink anything. I don’t show emotion whenever I’m throwing. I keep everything smiley, happy and then when I get to the dugout, I’ll let it out.”

The key to offensive success was execution in key situations. The Redskins were 7-of-12 at the plate with two outs and the game’s first five runs came with two down in the inning.

In addition to Schultz, Zoey Dunlap finished 2-for-3 with a solo homer and an RBI infield single while Emily Bennett and Mathes were also 2-for-3.

WHEELING PARK 000 000 - 0 1 2

HURRICANE 012 113 - 8 10 0

Linder and McCroskey. Vannatter and Dunlap. (H) Schultz HR, 3 RBI; Dunlap 2-3, HR, 2 RBI; Mathes 2-3; Bennett 2-3, 3B; McCray RBI; Meeks RBI.

STATE SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT

At Jackson Memorial Park

Vienna, W.Va.(Subject to change)

Double-elimination

CLASS AAA

Wednesday

G1: Hurricane 8, Wheeling Park 0

G2: George Washington 4, Washington 2

G3: Washington 11, Wheeling Park 3

G4: Hurricane 9, George Washington 0

Thursday

G5: Washington vs. George Washington, 9 a.m.

G6: Hurricane vs. G5 winner, 2:30 p.m.

G7: Same teams as G6 if necessary, follows.

CLASS AA

Wednesday

G1: Petersburg 1, Nitro 0

G2: Herbert Hoover 1, Independence 0, 9 innings.

G3: Nitro vs. Independence, (n).

G4: 3, Petersburg vs. Herbert Hoover, (n).

Thursday

G5: G3 winner vs. G4 loser, 11 a.m.

G6: G4 winner vs. G5 winner, 4:30 p.m.

G7: Same teams as G6 if necessary, follows.

CLASS A

Wednesday

G1: Sherman 8, Wheeling Central 1

G2: Clay-Battelle 2, Greenbrier West 1, 9 innings.

G3: Wheeling Central 9, Greenbrier West 3

G4: Sherman vs. Clay-Battelle, (n).

Thursday

G5: Wheeling Central vs. G4 loser, 9 a.m.

G6: G4 winner vs. G5 winner, 2:30 p.m.

G7: Same teams as G6 if necessary, follows.

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