MORGANTOWN — Two Monongalia County schools decided to help each other out during down time between the softball sectional and regional tournaments.
University, which beat Morgantown for the Class AAA Region I, Section II championship May 3, played Clay-Battelle, which beat Gilmer County for the Class A Region II, Section II, on May 3.
With over a week to wait before regional play, the teams decided to play a warm-up game to keep everyone fresh, but UHS head coach Mindy Parks had another idea as to why she wanted to play the Cee-Bees — pitcher Caitlyn Kassay.
“She is really good, we clocked her at 60 (mph),” Parks said of Kassay. “She’s very similar to the John Marshall pitcher, so I think that’ll really help us.”
The Hawks will take on John Marshall in a best-of-3 series, beginning today. Game 1 will be at Mylan Park, Game 2 will be at JMHS and if needed, Game 3 will be back at Mylan Park.
Monday’s game was washed out because of a thunderstorm, but the pitching matchup will stay the same.
The pitcher the Monarchs will throw out for Game 1 is Lauren Garcia, a fast thrower similar to the build of Kassay. Both throw hard and both hit their spots well, which is something Parks believes her team is ready for.
“I think facing [Kassay] really prepared us and gave us the confidence,” she said. “I said, ‘Look guys, John Marshall is just a name. You faced a really good pitcher and you did well against her.’ We had very few strike out, so we’re making contact which we’ll need to do [today].”
John Marshall has been the most dominant program in Region I for a while. The Monarchs won the state title in 2012 before Hurricane became a powerhouse. The Indians have won the last three state championships.
This season is no different for JMHS, with a record of 27-1 and riding a 22-game winning streak.
“We just have to stay up,” Parks said. “I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not going to be easy. Even if you beat them once, beating them twice is going to be a real challenge. They haven’t even lost two games all season. I just hope that we give them a game and that it goes our way.”
In a previous meeting this season, John Marshall won, 9-1, but one inning proved costly when the Monarchs scored six runs.
The forecast for the next week isn’t much better than it was Monday, with storms predicted every day through May 21. With a best-of-3 format, getting games in can be difficult, especially when teams are as separated as those in Section I and Section II.
Keeping the team up, even if games are postponed, is something Parks believes will be a challenge, but with an opportunity at the state tournament on the line, she doesn’t think it will be too big a concern.
The Hawks (11-14) will go with No. 1 junior pitcher Hayden Powroznik in Game 1, followed by Halei Johnson in Game 2. Johnson has been a pleasant surprise in the circle — UHS desperately needed another pitcher after last season and she had previously pitched in middle school.
“We had someone get hurt last year and Halei said that she had pitched before so we gave her a shot and she did really well,” Parks said. “So this year, she really stepped up and prevented us from having to develop someone who had never pitched before.”
First pitch for Game 1 is at 5 p.m. today May 15, at Mylan Park.
- C-B waited through a stormy night in Moorefield to take start its regional series with the Yellow Jackets and fell, 11-3. No other game details are available. The Cee-Bees, now trailing 0-1 in the best-of-3 series, will take on Moorefield at 5 p.m. May 15, at home. If needed, Game 3 will be at 5 p.m. May 16, in Moorefield.