WHEELING - The whole thing is not lost on Ed West. As his John Marshall softball team's trophy case continues to bulge, West understands what he's witnessing.
"This is a special group - a very special group,'' West said Friday night at Lisa's Field.
He made the comment after watching the Monarchs (27-3) easily handle rival Wheeling Park, 6-0, to claim the OVAC Class 5A championship for the second straight season. In addition, it's the 21st straight victory for John Marshall, which hasn't been beaten by a team from either West Virginia or Ohio this season.
The John Marshall softball team celebrate their Class 5A championship victory on Friday. The Monarchs defeated rival Wheeling Park, 6-0.
"You don't get these kind of talented players on your team every year,'' West said. "This group has been very good for a really long time, and now we're seeing the results of a lot of hard work they've put in over the years.''
The recent additions to the trophy case include not only the two OVAC titles, but hardware representing sectional, regional and state championships.
If this senior class has its way, three more pieces of hardware will soon be on the way.
The Monarchs relied on senior ace Amy Rotriga in the circle, as she struck out eight and was in control throughout. Classmates Kristin Lewicki (two doubles, RBI), Kylie Howard (double, triple, RBI) and Morgan Watson (two singles) brought the big sticks, while junior center fielder Sissy George ripped a pair of deep doubles and drove in a pair to lead a 10-hit attack.
"They always hit the ball,'' Wheeling Park (16-5) coach Dee Davis said. "I tried to tell Carly (Greer) location is more important than the curve ball.
"They tee off on you.''
That they did.
The Monarchs struck for two in the first and added a third run in the third as Watson led off with a walk and was plated two outs later by a Howard double.
"The defense was solid, the pitching was great and I thought we hit the ball real well,'' West said. "That's what I preach to the girls, is it doesn't matter what our lineup is (because) we can hit from top to bottom.
"That's what we've been doing for a long time. Just because we have 7-8-9 coming up doesn't mean we can't score.''
John Marshall made it 4-0 in the fourth as Watson got on with an infield single and scored as Lewicki hit one off the wall - narrowly missing a home run - in dead center. The Monarchs finished the scoring an inning later as Howard tripled leading off and scored on George's second RBI double. George then came home on a 2-2 single by Rotriga.
That was more than enough for the southpaw in the circle. Rotriga allowed two hits - a first-inning double by Kelsi Johnson and a sixth-inning single by Marissa Tucker, and no Patriot reached third base.
"She's been really good since she got here as a freshman,'' West said of Rotriga. "She's been unreal, throwing the best that she's ever thrown.
"Park's always a big game, and to put them away like we did is a little sweet.''
Friday marked the third straight victory this season for the Monarchs against the Patriots.
"Last year they beat us every game and then we split with them in the sectional - everything was close,'' Davis recalled. "But we haven't been close to them (this year). It's been 10-1, 8-3 and now 6-0.
"I'm going to regroup Monday and there might be a whole different team out there. Players, attitude and everything.''