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Pitching Leads John Marshall Softball to State

Pettit has fired 120 Ks while Wise sits with 51

Photo by Cody Tomer Tessa Wise and the John Marshall softball team will take on St. Albans on Tuesday in the first game of the West Virginia Class AAA state tournament.

GLEN DALE — The John Marshall softball team started the season 2-3 but coach Ed West felt the tides begin to turn on April 26 with a 3-0 triumph over a talented Dover squad.

Now, the Monarchs sit at 20-5-3 and will put that record on the line on Tuesday when they begin play in the W.Va. Class AAA state softball double elimination tournament in Charleston.

John Marshall opens play against St. Albans (30-1) with a 9:45 a.m. first pitch.

“When we beat Dover I thought that was a key win for us,” West said. “I thought it was a good confidence booster. It was 0-0 late in the game and the fact that we stayed patient and disciplined was a big boost, too. Then, we got a three-run homer in the fifth or the sixth inning.”

While the Monarchs have been rolling since the Dover game, their first opponent has been surging since the beginning of the year.

In fact, the St. Albans started the year 28-0 and didn’t lose until Game 1 of the Regional against Greenbrier East (5-4), before taking the last two games to punch their ticket to state.

The Red Dragons are led by six seniors in Kendall Stoffel, Gracie Payne, Jillian Holley, Taylor Glancy, Piper Endicott and Alivia Nunley, while Stoffel and sophomore Stephenson Tayven provide the big arms in the circle.

“They are very good and probably everybody’s number one pick,” West said of St. Albans. “They’ve been the team to beat all year long. It will be a challenge but I think any of the four teams down there in Class AAA could win with Cabell Midland (27-9) and Washington (25-3), too. We played Washington during the regular season and lost a close game but we didn’t play very well. Cabell Midland split with Ripley and we also split with Ripley.”

The Monarchs will take on St. Albans with some strong pitchers of their own in the circle.

Sophomore Kadence Pettit leads the way with 120 strikeouts, 17 walks and a 2.05 ERA in 75 innings pitched.

Senior Tessa Wise has also been solid with 51 punchouts, 11 free passes and a 2.21 ERA in 41 frames.

“They’ve all done pretty well,” West said of his pitchers. “Kadence has done exceptionally well and Riley Morgan has also been great for us this year. We’re really pleased with our pitching. I told them at the beginning of the year that I thought our pitching was strong, our defense was pretty good and our offense was our only question mark. Our offense was off to a slow start but it’s come on since then.

“It is nice to have more than one pitcher, though, especially in the postseason when you may be playing multiple games in one day.”

Pettit leads the offense, as well, with 36 hits, 10 home runs, 32 RBI and a .545 batting average.

Wise is hitting at a .478 clip with 33 hits, one homer and 19 RBI and senior first baseman Dori Kins has provided 29 hits, 21 RBI and a .367 average.

“Dori has done an excellent job,” West said. “She is really solid at first base and she hits the ball as hard as anyone we have. She hits a lot of line drives.”

So, when it comes down to it, the pitching and defense is where the Monarchs are the strongest and if the offense delivers the run support, John Marshall may have a shot at bringing home its first state title since 2012.

“If we can continue to get our pitching and good defense, we can definitely hang with anybody,” West said. “It’s just a matter of if we can get a couple runs across the board. That will be the key. I think we will be in every game but it’s just a matter of how many runs we get.”

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