SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A year ago, Winfield entered the final day of softball season in the driver’s seat of Class AA.
The Generals then lost twice to Herbert Hoover, allowing the Huskies to claim a fifth consecutive state championship in the process.
For Herbert Hoover to notch a sixth straight championship, history will have to repeat itself.
Winfield pitcher Maci Boggess struck out nine over a complete game two-hitter, and Kennedy Schilling’s run-scoring single in the second inning marked the Generals’ only hit in their 1-0 victory over the Huskies in a winners bracket matchup as part of the WVSSAC State Softball Tournament.
“Last year, we got in our heads’ a lot, because Hoover is the softball school,” Boggess said. “We need to use that as motivation, not let up and go get ’em.”
With the win, Winfield (32-4) needs one victory before two losses to claim its first state championship.
“We were here last year in this spot and they came back and beat us twice, so we know very well that they’re very capable of coming back and winning this thing,” WHS head coach Steve Hensley said. “We need to come out tomorrow and put our best foot forward, try to win and take care of business.”
The Huskies (22-9) will battle Oak Glen in an elimination game Thursday morning.
“We can still win three tomorrow,” Hoover head coach Missy Smith said. “We’ve done it the last two years. We’ll start at 9:30 in the morning and try to check them off.”
Scoring chances were few and far between for both teams, but WHS capitalized on the game’s only error, which allowed Chloe Kimble to reach to start the second inning. With two outs in that frame, Schilling ripped a solid single to right field to score courtesy runner Ava Cole.
“If you can get runners on and move them over and get some hits, especially with two outs, those are golden and they really change momentum,” Hensley said. “That throws the momentum in your favor. We’ve done well doing that over the last couple of weeks.”
Boggess retired the side in the third, fourth and fifth innings, although Winfield failed to add to its lead despite drawing two base-on-balls in the third and another to start the fourth.
“Tried to command the zone and get ground balls and easy outs for my defense,” Boggess said.
The Huskies (22-9) had their best chance to score in the sixth as Sadi Wehrle led off with an infield single and Josi Fox was hit by a pitch immediately after.
With two on to start the frame, Boggess dug in deep and struck out Brooklyn Huffman and Abby Hanson, before inducing a fly ball off the bat of Sydney Bright that was hauled in by shortstop Mianna Oglesby.
“This is what the state tournament should be. It should be two great teams facing off in a semifinal in a game like this,” Smith said. “It’s fun to watch. Obviously I wish we’d have come out on the winning side, but it was a great game to be a part of.”
HHHS had one final opportunity in the seventh, but Boggess retired all three batters she faced, including the last two on ground balls.
Laila Varney suffered the tough-luck loss for the Huskies despite holding WHS to one hit. Varney struck out five and walked three.
“Her ball moved well and she kept them off balance just enough. She had seen them already this year and to keep them off balance, her changeup had to work and it really did,” Smith said. “She controlled both sides of the plate and pitched really well.”