By Carl Holcomb
The West Virginia All-Stars from Moorefield chose this song by the Bee Gees as the official team song for inspiration at the Southeastern Regional Tournament and it was fitting having to play three elimination games to reach the championship.
West Virginia (Moorefield) was grooving to the music in Salisbury, N.C. clicking heels during victories against Tennessee (Mooresburg-Bean Station) 15-3 and North Carolina (Rutherfordton-Forest City-Chase) 5-2 on Saturday to advance to the loser’s bracket final for a berth into the Southeastern Regional Junior League Softball Championship.
“I’m very proud of these girls. I’m proud of their mindset coming after the Florida loss, They came out early against Tennessee and were able to get some bunts down. We made good contact and ran the bases well. Our defense looked pretty good. The pitchers threw pretty well,” West Virginia manager Sheldon Arbaugh noted.
“They are getting greedy now, They got this win and they want to go out and win again. They are excited. They told me they felt this wasn’t their best game yet.”
[private] West Virginia’s Anna Riggleman hit a leadoff single and collided with the Tennessee first baseman.
Gracie O’Neill executed a bunt single and advanced to second base on the play to put runners in scoring position against Tennessee.
Tori Humphries made an RBI groundout for West Virginia’s initial lead, then a fielder’s choice out at home and a groundout retired the side.
Tennessee’s Allison Garber garnered a double against West Virginia pitcher Lauren Arbaugh along the left field line.
Shounta Caffey singled to left field and advanced to second base on the throw from O’Neill to third base.
After a strikeout, Riggleman gunned the ball home to catcher Alyson Simmons for an out on a fielder’s choice.
Tennessee added another base runner with a walk to load the bases, but stranded them on a pop-up chased down by Tori Humphries.
West Virginia was unsuccessful with two bunts, then Emily Kuykendall connected for a double into left field.
Arbaugh switch hit and made an RBI single and Riggleman followed with an RBI double to the left field fence for a 3-0 edge before a strikeout ended the side.
Tennessee went down in order on a strikeout and two groundouts.
West Virginia had a huge third inning scoring eight runs for an 11-0 advantage.
Humphries executed a bunt single and Remi Hinkle reached on a single with the throw from the shortstop falling short.
Hanna Carlson gave West Virginia a 5-0 edge with a two-run producing single to center field.
Simmons netted an RBI double in center field aided by an error.
Hailey Biser singled with the ball glancing off the glove of the Tennessee pitcher.
West Virginia’s Emily Kuykendall hit an RBI groundout to extend the lead to 7-0.
Arbaugh bunted for a double and Riggleman garnered an RBVI single.
O’Neill made an RBI groundout and Humphries hit an RBI single up the middle.
Hinkle reached third base on an error in center field and plated a run in the process for an 11-0 score.
Tennessee loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame on a single by Caffey and two walks, but failed to score on a strikeout to end it.
In the fourth inning, Biser hit a leadoff single to center field and advanced on a groundout by Kuykendall.
Riggleman smacked an RBI double to left field and O’Neill sent Riggleman home on a single to right field for a 13-0 advantage.
After Humphries issued two walks, Kuykendall came in to pitch for West Virginia and got a strikeout and forced a pop-out.
Coffey singled to left field and scored on a bases loaded single by Karlie Welch.
Madison Helton hit a two-RBI single into center field to close the gap to 13-3.
Carlson singled to right field in the fifth inning and scored as Simmons singled and advanced to third base on an error past first base.
Lydia Keplinger made an RBI sacrifice bunt for a final of 15-3.
Riggleman closed the game pitching and induced two groundouts around a strikeout.
“We’re pretty proud to be here.There are many other teams that could have been here and wasn’t. This is a blessing. It was the heat, my girls weren’t ready for the heat. It boiled down to the heat,” Tennessee manager Shawn Garber remarked.
Players and coaches were jumping in the air clicking their heels before the North Carolina game as the fans roared with approval.
North Carolina got on the scoreboard first with an RBI groundout by Emma Rogers plating Maddie Summers, who was given a walk earlier by West Virginia pitcher Hanna Carlson.
West Virginia failed to get a runner on base in the first inning as Anna Riggleman grounded out and North Carolina pitcher Emma Rogers recorded two strikeouts.
Carlson started the second inning pitching a strikeout, then North Carolina’s Kaylee Duffey singled on a blooper to right field.
A sacrifice bunt moved the runner, then Jackie Perez hit an RBI single and was thrown out at second base, 2-0.
North Carolina’s Cheyanne Aldridge caught two fly balls including one by the fence off the bat of Carlson and the other hit by Remi Hinkle.
Alyson Simmons singled for West Virginia and was left on base on a strikeout.
Neither team managed to score in the third inning.
West Virginia tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning as O’Neill walked and Humphries hit an RBI double to right center.
Hinkle connected for an RBI sacrifice fly to knot the game at 2-all.
A defensive highlight for West Virginia in the fifth inning came after a walk and ground rule double by Summers as Humphries leapt to catch a fly ball and threw home to catcher Alyson Simmons, who tossed to Emily Kuykendall to catch North Carolina in a rundown tag double play to retire the side.
North Carolina got a leadoff walk in the sixth inning by Rogers and a walk to Ashleigh Pachero, but both were stranded on two strikeouts and a flyout caught by Lydia Keplinger.
Keplinger hit a chopper for a single with one out, then Humphries launched the balling center field and it was dropped.
Hinkle garnered an RBI single into left field for a 3-2 lead.
Simmons sealed the win with a two-run double aided by an error at shortstop, 5-2.
North Carolina went down in order in the seventh inning on a groundout, flyout and strikeout.
“That was gut check win for us. We struggled to score early. We started hitting and gave us some confidence. We had some big defensive plays including the double play with the shallow ball which gave us confidence and momentum. Hanna Carlson pitched a fantastic complete game, she came through for us,” Coach Arbaugh commented.
West Virginia had a good luck charm in the dugout which was a pink rock with an inspirational message to live, laugh and love which has been with the team at all games since found in the Sager Field dugout.
This trip was more than just for games to be played, it was a time of bonding on and off the field as the team had meals together and homemade state signs were designed for each player’s hotel door plus a snack wagon followed the squad.