MORGANTOWN — On April 30 at surprisingly warm and sunny, yet perpetually breezy Mylan Park, the WVSSAC girls’ softball Region I, Section II tournament kicked off with No. 1 seed University facing No. 4 seed Preston.
For the Hawks, who had just swept a doubleheader from the Knights last week by a combined score of 23-3, it was — as Yogi Berra once purportedly quipped — a case of deja vu all over again, as they came out on top, 10-2, in five innings.
But it wasn’t quite as easy as the final score might appear.
Only an excellent leaping stab by centerfielder Halei Johnson on Haley Livengood’s scorched liner with two out and one on in the first kept the Knights (1-14, 0-1) from taking an early lead, and despite cracking four straight base hits in the third, two runners thrown out on the bases limited PHS to a single tally.
The Hawks (8-13, 1-0) scored three times in the first on RBIs from Yasmine Colebank, Johnson, and Lou Kisner. In the second, three straight hits from the top of the lineup (Hayden Powroznik, Layne Assif, and Colebank) after two outs extended the lead, and a single tally in the third frame gave the Hawks a less-than-comfortable 6-2 lead.
But the UHS bats finally woke up in the fourth, as they pounded out three hits that plated four runs, the big blow Johnson’s second triple of the game, to put the game out of reach and propel the Hawks into the winner’s bracket.
After the game, Preston coach Mike Adams was pleased with his team’s effort.
“We have a team full of players that play softball just six weeks a year,” he explained, “and the progress we make throughout the season is always gratifying. These girls always play hard, the senior leaders (Tori DeWitt, Lexie Goodwin, Courtney Christopher, and Gracie Favro) make sure they never quit, and they support each other 100 percent. I’m proud of them, and I thought we gave them our best shot today.”
University coach Mindy Parks agreed.
“Preston swung the bats well, and they have really improved the last few seasons,” she said. “We came out a little sluggish, especially at the plate, but those two-out hits in the second and the work we did in the fourth when it was 6-2 made the difference. We experimented with some players and positions, seeing what we have moving forward, and in the end, we got what we wanted.”
During this time of year, what every team wants always starts and ends with a great big capital W.
In the double-elimination tournament, University will host No. 2 Morgantown at Mylan Park at 5 p.m. May 1, while Preston plays an elimination game on the road at 6:30 p.m., at No. 3 Buckhannon-Upshur.