Wheeling Park Falls to Morgantown; Will Play in Decisive Game 3

Mohigans force Game 3 in Region One Championship

Photo by William Wotrig/The Dominion Pot Wheeling Park’s Mahayla McCroskey goes after a loose ball while Morgantown’s Breonna Marietta scores.

MORGANTOWN — Seasons for both the Morgantown and Wheeling Park softball team have been defined by trying to limit mistakes in the field, and that trend carried over into the Class A Region One tournament between the Mohigans and Patriots.

In Game 1 on Tuesday, in was Morgantown that struggled defensively, bobbling routine grounders and dropping pop flies, allowing Wheeling Park to jump out to an early lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Roles were reversed in Game 2 on Wednesday at Mylan Park, with the Patriots collapsing defensively in the sixth inning, allowing the Mohigans to put six runs on the board. After a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh, the Mohigans brought home a 6-1 winning, forcing a decisive Game 3 today in Wheeling.

“(Tuesday), we had like six errors and the first couple runs they scored were on routine plays,” Morgntown coach Lorri Lipscomb said. “At this stage in the game, errors like that cost you, and then you see what happened to (Wheeling Park) (Wednesday). I’m proud of the way we stayed the course and we played well defensively and fought back at the plate.”

For the second straight day, Ashley Linder took the circle for Wheeling Park (12-11). On Tuesday, she allowed one run in seven innings, and continued to pitch well deep into Wednesday’s game.

Linder had a shutout through five innings and even had defensive help in the second inning when centerfielder Kelsey Chacalos hit the cutoff, Linder, and Linder fired home as catcher Mahayla McCroskey nabbed Mahalie Moser at the plate.

It started to fall apart in the sixth inning, as Breonna Marietta leadoff with a double for the Mohigans (19-7), followed by an error and a single that loaded the bases with no one out. Then, Lillian Kooser hit a dribbler in front of the plate that the Patriots threw away, allowing two runs to score to give Morgantown its first lead.

Four more runs came in to score on two more errors and Linder finished with six runs allowed, though only one was earned.

“It’s uncharacteristic of the way we’ve been playing, we’ve actually been pretty tough defensively lately and we played the first five innings really well,” Wheeling Park coach Pat Durkin said. “Both teams put pressure on you defensively, but for some reason, we just cracked. They got a couple sneaky hits and that cost us.”

With today’s winner-take-all game, Morgantown is looking for its first state tournament appearance since the program began in 1996. Wheeling Park is hoping to return for the first time since 2016, though the Patriots have never won a state title. Hurricane has won five of the last six Class AAA championships.

Making state history is something Lipscomb is preaching to her team.

“Before every game, I tell them that they have a shot to make school history,” she said. “They’re already doing it and I want them to know that they can add to it. So if we continue to play together, we can do this.”

Morgantown pitcher Grace Haines earned the win, throwing six innings and allowing one run on three hits.

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