6:00pm: Sportsline with Tony Caridi

Winfield completes Class AA state title defense with 5-2 win over Keyser

(Photos by Teran Malone)

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The month of March was not kind to the Winfield Generals as they set out to defend their Class AA state championship. But better health and better play in the months of April and May allowed the Generals to reach the same heights they achieved a year ago.

Winfield completed an undefeated run at the state tournament en route to their second consecutive WVSSAC State Championship, defeating Keyser 5-2.

“We thought we had a good team. We had some injuries early in the year. Defensively, we have been pretty solid all year. We had two or three pitchers down for a couple weeks. Lilly Chandler and Alex Hurley threw a lot of innings early in the year. We got healthier as we got into April. The weather warmed up and the bats came around,” said Winfield head coach Steve Hensley.

“Hats off to them. What a year it has been. From where were in March to where we got going now, it is just an incredible feeling and I am thrilled.”

Keyser defeated Herbert Hoover, 12-4 in five innings Thursday morning to advance to the championship round. Winfield defeated the Golden Tornado, 11-3 in Wednesday’s winners bracket final to give themselves the advantage heading into Thursday’s play.

After a scoreless opening frame, Keyser took the lead in the second inning. A two-run single from Brielle Root scored Makayla Gillaspie and Madyson McIntyre.

Winfield would score the next five runs over the next two innings. Run-scoring singles from Emery Nelson and Evie Loyd in the second inning evened the score at 2. In the third, a pair of infield singles from Alex Hurley and Nelson plated a pair of runs. Nelson later scored on a double steal to give the Generals a 5-2 lead.

“We tried to simplify it as much as we can, stay on time and put the ball in play. For the most part over these three games, that’s what we were able to do,” Hensley said.

After allowing two runs in the second inning, sophomore pitcher Madeline Carroll posted five scoreless frames to close the game out. She went the distance in the circle for the Generals (26-9), allowing four hits and striking out eight batters.

“I think it was just getting nerves out,” Carroll said. “Having a good defense playing behind me was big.”

“Every time we’ve been able to get her a lead, she has been able to take it out and make it stand up,” Hensley said. “A lot of really good pitchers throw well with the lead. When you can get a good pitcher a lead, it is going to give her some extra juice and a little momentum. And I think she got that. She threw a great game today and I am really proud of her.”

Loyd, Nelson and Lilly Chandler had multi-hit games for the Generals.

The state championship is Winfield’s second in school history. After a 2-7 start, the Generals won 24 of their final 26 games.

Leighton Johnson pitched the first two innings and Keyser (27-11) while Rylee Mangold went the final four innings in relief. Root, Tayler Likens, Bibs Felton and Gillaspie had the base hits for KHS. The Golden Tornado made their second state tournament appearance and their first since 2012.

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