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Softball: John Marshall Has Eye on the Prize

May 22, 2012
By JOSH STROPE , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

VIENNA - The John Marshall softball team has been to Jackson State Park for the West Virginia Softball Tournament in each of the past two seasons so reaching this point is nothing new.

The Monarchs know what to expect and are familiar with two of the three other teams in Class AAA.

Now comes the hard part.

When John Marshall opens the tournament at 10 a.m. Wednesday against Robert C. Byrd, the Monarchs will do so with expectations as high as they have ever been.

After finishing runner-up last season, there is only one more step to take.

''A state championship is certainly what we are shooting for,'' JM coach Ed West said. ''We've come back with fourth place and second place. We are looking for the big prize this year.''

John Marshall comes into the tournament off an 8-0 victory against East Fairmont in the regional title game. Before that, the Monarchs defeated Wheeling Park for the sectional crown, but not before seeing their school-record 29-game winning streak come to an end.

West said all season that he and his team didn't really pay attention to the streak. He even took a different approach about it coming to end.

''I'm just glad it was a close ball game,'' he said. ''Most of our games were blowout wins, and I wanted to see how they would respond. Did it do us any good losing that game? I don't know. Maybe now that the streak is over it takes a little pressure off but I don't know they ever really worried about it.

''We had some goals: win sectionals, win regional, get to states and see what happens.''

West doesn't know much about the Eagles but the two teams have one common opponent in Musselman. Robert C. Byrd defeated Musselman, 3-2, in the regional title game to earn a trip to Vienna. John Marshall beat the Applemen handily in two games by a combined score of 19-1.

The rest of the field consists of Logan, which John Marshall split with in the state tournament last season, and Parkersburg South, which was on the losing end of three games with the Monarchs this season.

''Based on what I know, I feel we match up real well with everyone,'' West said. ''If we play to our capability, we can play with everyone.''

In softball, that starts with pitching and John Marshall might have the best in the state.

Amy Rotriga went 17-1 this season and hasn't been scored on in her last 28 innings. Behind her is senior Megan Garcia, who went 15-2 and could probably be an ace on 90 percent of the team's in the state. Garcia no-hit Musselman in the state tournament last season.

''I don't know how many teams have the two quality pitchers like we do,'' West said. ''Megan is very capable as she showed last year and Amy has just been on fire lately.''

The bats are pretty good, too.

Junior shortstop Kylie Howard leads the way, batting .504 with five home runs and 49 RBI. Garcia, playing at first when not pitching, has three homers with 47 RBI.

Alyssa George mans the outfield along with Morgan Watson, Jackie Gellner, and Emily Yocum.

Hannah Rogerson plays at second with Emily Winters and Alexa Jones playing third.

At catcher is junior standout Kristin Lewicki, who paces the Monarchs with a .515 batting average.

The biggest key to the Monarchs' success could be the outcome of the opener.

John Marshall lost the opener last season, then won two straight to avoid elimination before eventually losing to Lincoln County in the finals.

''We haven't neglected that, that's for sure,'' West said. ''The girls can't overlook anyone and they know that. We lost and had to fight back and that took a lot out of us.

''Winning that first game and getting that win could go a long way for us.''

 
 

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