NEW MANCHESTER - The Oak Glen softball team was riding high after defeating Weir to claim the West Virginia Class AA Region 1 Section I title last week.
Unfortunately, for the Golden Bears, the tears of joy shed last week turned into tears of sadness as Ritchie County plated a pair of unearned runs as the visiting Rebels blanked the Golden Bears, 2-0, in the Region 1 semifinals Thursday.
Ritchie County (28-2) has advanced to the regional finals Thursday. The postseason is all about winning and advancing to the next round, and the Rebels were able to do just that.
FINAL GAME — Oak Glen’s Jordan Cunningham delivers a pitch during Thursday’s 2-0 loss to Ritchie County at the Field of Dreams to end the Golden Bears’ season.
-- Fred Younce
"That's about it," Ritchie County head coach Dave Mossor said. "The three-hour trip didn't help, either, and we had no hitting before the game, either. There is a place they can go to hit, but they didn't want to. We weren't ready.
"We have freshmen doing this. Our power hitter is a freshman. She did get a hit, but she did look like a freshman."
The Golden Bears end the season at 8-19, and the loss brought the end to the coaching career of head coach Michelle McHaffie.
"I can't ask for more from them except for a win," McHaffie said. "They battled until the end. Even at the end, they were still on the fence. They were still believing. They are a wonderful group of kids. I could not be more pleased. I am proud of them."
The Rebels scored a run in the third and another in the sixth en route to securing the victory.
Sophomore Moie Ray recorded the win. Ray struck out eight while not walking a batter. She limited the Golden Bears to three singles en route to the shutout.
"Our pitcher, Moie Ray, I think she should be an all-stater," said Mosser. "One pitcher is 14-2, and the other is 13-0. She had to bear down today.
"We have two-outstanding pitchers. One is a freshman, and one is a sophomore."
Shutouts are nothing new for the Rebels as Ritchie County has recorded 14 such games this season. The Rebels have not allowed a run in their last five games.
Senior Jordan Cunningham delivered a strong performance in her final game inside the circle for the Golden Bears. Cunningham gave up six hits while striking out two. Like Ray, Cunningham did not issue a free pass.
Seven of the nine hits in the game were singles.
For the Golden Bears, Cunningham helped her own cause with a pair of base hits, and Ashley Pryor collected a base knock.
In the top of the third inning, Hanna Stout reached on a throwing error to lead off the inning. Stout eventually came around to score on a groundout by Delancey to Cunningham to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
"We are a better-hitting team that that," Mossor said. "I don't want to discredit their pitcher, but she couldn't break a pane of glass. She is not a fast pitcher. That killed us. I kept telling the girls to stay back, but we were always out in front.
"I would normally give the girls a day off tomorrow, but I told them we are going to have a practice."
Oak Glen had a golden opportunity to tie the score in the fifth inning, but the hosts were unable to come up with the clutch hit needed to produce a run.
Cunningham got things started with a single, and Mykelti McGaffic reached on an error to give the Golden Bears runners on second and third with no outs.
With her back against the wall, Moie Ray was able to pitch herself out of harms' way. She struck out Marissa Murray for the first out of the inning. Next, the hurler got Casey Patterson to foul out to first base. Finally, Moie Ray struck out Shayni Vega to end the inning and the threat.
The Rebels tacked on an insurance run in the sixth.
Delancey led off with a single. Delancey was able to steal second base to move into scoring position. With one out, Burgess popped up to Murray for the second out of the inning, however, Delancey was able to advance to third base on an errant throw. Next, Micah Ray ripped a double to score Delancey giving Ritchie County a 2-0 advantage.
"The last loss is always tough," McHaffie said. "They scored two runs. On the first run, a girl reached on an error. She shouldn't have been on base. On the second run, there was another error. We made two errors, and they scored two runs.
"Jordan Cunningham threw a great game. She kept the ball down. It was one of her best performances. It was a great performance."
In the bottom half of the inning, Pryor produced a two-out single, but she ended up being stranded at first base.
"I am proud of the girls," McHaffie said. "It saddens me because I am leaving, but the program is headed in the right direction. I will be watching from the sideline in the future, but I am excited about the future of the softball program."
The game was also the final one at Oak Glen for the Golden Bears' four seniors - Cunningham, Murray, Patterson and Vega.
"The seniors are a big part of the program," McHaffie said. "Today, our pitcher is a senior. Our first baseman (Patterson) is a senior. Our third baseman, Marissa Murray, is a senior. She got hurt today. She took a shot to the knee. Her knee popped out, but she kept playing. She was our final batter of the game. We also had Shayni in left field.
"The girls provided a huge amount of leadership. We have a lot of youth on this team. We have a lot of freshmen, and our seniors provided good leadership. Our seniors were the leaders of the team.
"They kept the core together."
Ritchie County 2, Oak Glen 0
Ritchie County 001 001 0 - 2 6 1
Oak Glen 000 000 0 - 0 3 3
RITCHIE COUNTY (28-2): M. Ray (WP, 8K, 0BB) and Burgess; Tallman 2S; Delancey S, RBI; Burgess S; Mi. Ray 2-D, RBI.
OAK GLEN (8-19): Cunningham (LP, 2K, 0BB) and Crane; Cunningham 2S; Pryor S.