SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Until last year, it took forever for the Lady Falcons to reach the state tournament.
The defending champs didn’t have to wait nearly as long the second time around.
The Wahama softball team returns to its familiar hunting ground this Wednesday and Thursday when the Lady Falcons partake in the 2022 WVSSAC Class A softball championships being held at ‘The Rock’ at Little Creek Park in Kanawha County.
The Lady Falcons (26-2) enter the Class A tournament as the favorite as the Red and White are not only the reigning champs, but they are also the only 20-win team in the field. WHS is also one of the two Little Kanawha Conference programs that will be appearing in the Final Four in the single-A bracket.
St. Marys (19-8) — the other LKC squad — will face Petersburg (18-2) in the opening contest at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, with Wahama taking on Midland Trail (13-10) approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 1.
Pending on the outcomes in regards to matchups, two other contests will be played later Wednesday to determine who will advance out to the championship game and which two remaining teams will be left to battle in the loser’s bracket final on Thursday morning at 9:45 a.m.
The Class A championship game is slated for 2:15 p.m. Thursday, with a deciding Game 3 waiting 30 minutes later if the contest is necessary.
Wahama was perfect in 27 contests en route to last year’s first state crown in softball, and the Lady Falcons have more than survived the gauntlet this year against a beefed-up slate of contests — including several games against Class AA and Class AAA programs.
In fact, the only losses for WHS this spring have come against defending triple-A champion Cabell Midland (10-3) and against perennial Class AA regional qualifier Winfield. Both of those losses also occurred in road outings.
The Lady Falcons have won 11 games by shutout and have scored at least once in all 28 games played this spring. WHS has outscored opponents by a 235-64 overall margin.
Here’s a brief look at each of the other programs participating this week in the Class A softball tournament.
The Lady Patriots played three straight games against Greenbrier West to get here, but MTHS posted a resounding 14-6 victory in the decisive Game 3 of the Region 3 tournament. Midland Trail, like both Wahama and Petersburg, is also making a repeat appearance at the state tournament.
After losses in its first three games of the regular season, MTHS has endured only two 2-game losing streaks since. Conversely, the Lady Patriots currently own their second of two 3-game winning streaks headed into the tournament — their longest winning stretches of the season.
Midland Trail, on the year, has outscored opponents by a 162-112 overall margin and has scored double-digit runs on eight different occasions. MTHS has also surrendered double-digits runs four times.
The Blue Devils dropped decisions of 5-2 and 4-0 against Wahama this season, but SMHS ended up finishing third overall in the LKC standings — behind WHS and runner-up Doddridge County.
St. Marys brings a 6-game winning streak into the tournament and has outscored opponents this spring by a 164-85 overall margin.
SMHS has been shut out three times this year and has also won seven contests without allowing a run. Three of the Blue Devils’ five postseason wins have also been by shutout.
St. Marys is the only team in this year’s Class A state tournament that wasn’t in that same spot last year as they replaced Ritchie County in the Final Four.
The Lady Vikings enter the state tournament with a 6-game winning streak and have suffered losses only to visiting Allegany (20-1) and at Keyser (7-6) this spring.
PHS started the 2022 campaign with 10 straight wins and has scored double-digit runs in seven different victories this year. The two losses were the only times that Petersburg allowed more than six runs in a single contest.
The Lady Vikings have posted five shutouts and are outscoring opponents by a 184-71 overall margin.
Petersburg lost to Wahama by a 6-5 count in last year’s state tournament. The Lady Falcons went on to beat Ritchie County twice for the Class A crown.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.