WHEELING - As yet another school year winds down, so too does the prep season. Just two more sports will crown state champions on the West Virginia side of the river.
One of those will be taken care of in the next couple of days as Vienna again plays host to the state softball tournament, beginning today. Locally, two teams remain capable of calling themselves champions, and each will be on the diamond bright and early this morning.
In Class AAA, surprising and No. 6-ranked Wheeling Park (20-5) looks to continue its run when it faces first-time participant Hurricane (30-6) at 9:30 a.m.at Jackson Park. The Patriots are fresh off dethroning defending state champion and wire-to-wire No. 1 John Marshall, 5-3, last Thursday in Glen Dale.
Dee Davis' club is led by slugging, left-handed catcher Ashleigh Sidon and right-handed ace Carly Greer in the circle. Two pitchers are generally required at the state level, so expect lefty Skylar Carrington to make an impact.
The No. 3 Redskins may be making their debut, but they've been tested to get here. Hurricane knocked off No. 4 Lincoln County, No. 2 Cabell Midland and always formidable St. Albans just to get to this point.
Leading the way for the Redskins are four-year starters Linzie Reynolds and Nicole Pierson.
Meanwhile, in Class A, perennial contender Wheeling Central (21-8) is back after a one-year hiatus and will take on Buffalo (31-4) at 9:45 a.m. in a battle of multiple-championship winners. The Bison are the two-time defending state champions and ranked No. 1.
The Maroon Knights advanced with a 5-2 road victory against St. Marys in the Region One finale, while Buffalo shut out Doddridge County, 2-0, in Region Four.
Wheeling Central is led by the pitching tandem of Madison Basinger, who earned a regional victory, and Sarah Henry, as well as the bats of Ashley Gast, Sydney Bennington and Joni Zavolta, among several others. Cara Stahl returned from injury to go 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored against St. Marys.
The Bison feature a 1-2 pitching tandem of junior Chelsey Parkins and sophomore Ali Burdette.
Bishop Donahue sophomore defensive lineman Chase Padlow has been making a name for himself on the combine scene recently. He showed up at the Midwest Elite Exposure Camp looking to make a name for himself and certainly did not disappoint.
The Rivals.com affiliated event took place in Wixom, Mich., and was broken down into two parts - one for linemen and the other for skill position players.
According to Mark McMullen and Brice Marich of Scout.com, Padlow ranked fourth overall at the showcase in terms of the linemen. Here is what they said of Padlow: "(He) wasn't a name coming in that many planned on watching, but after his performance today, there is a good chance they will take notice to him now. Being 6-3, 280 pounds, he is an ox and a load to handle with inside. His initial reaction to the ball is good and he uses his hands well early on in this stage. When it came down to the one on ones, he really put on a show and trucked through his competition."
Big things are in store for Bishop Donahue's big man.
Bonar to WLU
Speaking of the Bishops, West Liberty coach Roger Waialae got himself a good one when he landed do-it-all Jordan Bonar. The leading receiver last season for John Durdines' club, Bonar can make an impact a number of ways, whether it be carrying the football, catching it, or throwing a block.
Defensively he has been one of the hardest hitters and surest tacklers in the OVAC during the last four years from his linebacker position.
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org