Vienna has been a home-away-from-home for the Logan High School softball team over the years.
The last four years, the Lady Cats have made a school-record and unprecedented four straight trips to the Class AAA state tournament in Parkersburg suburb.
After four straight appearances in the state tournament and a 112-23 record the last four seasons, Logan hopes to make a return trip this spring in the Lady Cats’ drive for five.
Logan has a tougher road this year. Gone and graduated are several key members to the Logan team, including: pitchers Morgan Aguirre and Taylor Norman; starting catcher Katie Chryssofos; starting first baseman Lara Sedlock; and starting right fielder Emily Vinson.
Aguirre, who now is a freshman pitcher at the University of Charleston, hit .449 last season with 31 RBI and 44 total base hits. On the mound, she was 13-4 with 158 strikeouts and a 1.53 ERA.
Norman hit a team-leading .485 last season for the 28-7 Lady Cats with 32 hits and 16 RBI.
Chryssofos was a steady catcher both offensively and defensively as she hit .376 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI to go along with 35 total base hits.
Sedlock will also be missed at first base as she hit a hefty .395 last season with 41 RBI and 47 total base hits.
Vinson batted .233 last season with a pair of home runs and was particularly sound in right field with her strong arm.
Those will be tough shoes to fill but veteran head coach Randy Robinette said his team is ready for the new challenge this spring with talented new and returning players who are going to give it their all.
Logan was red-hot last season, particularly early on as Logan reeled off 15 straight wins in April and jumped out to a 19-2 start. The Lady Cats then went 9-5 the rest of the way.
LHS went 30-7 in 2009, 29-5 in 2010 and 25-4 in 2011 during its state tourney run.
“We’ve got a mixture of returning players and a lot of young kids who haven’t played much varsity,” Robinette said. “We’ve been hampered by the weather. We’ve only been able to go outside five times and that hasn’t been conducive. We’ve also just got the basketball players back and are getting them into softball shape. That takes a few days but this is a hard-working group. We’ve got talent and we’re going to try to get better each game.”
Logan’s road to Vienna is tougher this season as well as the Lady Cats have been moved to Class AAA Region 4 away from Region 3 where LHS easily defeated Greenbrier East 7-0 in last year’s regional finals.
For the last several years, Logan played against George Washington and South Charleston in its sectional but now the Lady Cats will face St. Albans and Nitro. St. Albans and Logan were last sectional foes in the early 2000s. It was St. Albans which defeated Logan 1-0 in the Class AAA state championship game in 2010.
If Logan is able to win its section title, the Lady Cats would then face off with either Point Pleasant or Winfield in the region semifinals.
The new regional championship opponent would be either Hurricane, Lincoln County, Cabell Midland, Huntington or Spring Valley.
Logan has had a lot of post-season history with Cabell Midland, which is usually a state softball power. Back in 2002, the Lady Cats defeated Cabell Midland 1-0 in the Class AAA state championship game at Summersville.
Logan went 1-2 in last year’s state tourney, shutting out Robert C. Byrd (8-0) and then getting ousted in the double-elimination tournament with two losses to Parkersburg South (8-3 and 6-0).
Logan has won four state championships in its history as the Lady Cats took crowns in 1986, 2001 and 2002 in Triple-A and a 2A title in 2006.
Things may look a bit more difficult on the surface for the Lady Cats, but the Logan program — the softball factory that it is — always seems to bounce back and succeed.
The good news is that several key players are back from last year’s team even with the departures of some of the big guns.
Heading the list is senior Rachelle Toppings, who is just coming off a highly successful run to the Class AAA state championship game with the Logan girls’ basketball team.
Toppings, a smooth-fielding and strong-armed infielder, had just as big of a season with the bat last year as she did with her glove as she hit .430 with 46 total hits and 13 RBI in Logan’s leadoff spot in the batting order.
In the state tourney at Vienna last year Toppings was Logan’s top hitter as she was 4-for-11 at the plate. She was 2-for-3 in the win over RCB with a bunt single and a slap hit.
“Rachelle has improved her defense tremendously,” Robinette said. “She’ll be solid for us at shortstop. She’s got a good bat and has good speed and we will count on her to set the table for us.”
Senior outfielder/infielder Antonia Hill is also back and gives the Lady Cats speed on the base paths. Hill hit .357 last year for Logan and had 15 hits and four RBI.
Hill may also see time at short, second and at first for the Lady Cats. Freshman Ashton Spry can also play shortstop.
“Hill is our all-around player,” Robinette said. “She can play infield and outfield. Right now, we’re unsettled to what we’re going to do in certain spots.”
Senior Shana Hall, who plays outfield and pitches, is Logan’s top returning hurler. She had a 2-0 record last season within the chalked circle and had a 3.28 ERA with 11 strikeouts.
“Shana has pitched a lot of JV for us,” Robinette said. “She made two varsity starts last year. When she didn’t pitch she will play in the outfield.”
Sophomore Aarron Ward will also pitch for the Lady Cats.
“She pitched JV for us last year,” Robinette said of Ward. “She’s a real hard worker for us and could also see time at first base and in the outfield. We also have two freshmen pitchers in Hannah Sedlock, Lara’s sister, who could also see time at first base and in the outfield, and Brooklyn Queen, who will also play in the outfield.”
Another returning starter for Logan is second baseman Shelby Hale, a junior.
“She’s a starter from last year and she’s improved her defense tremendously,” Coach Robinette said. “Her offense is also starting to come around. She’s hitting the ball pretty good in preseason. We expect her to really improve.”
Tiffany Jude, a sophomore, gives Logan another option at second base as well as Abby Kirk.
Junior Samantha Curry also started some last season at third for Logan depending on the Lady Cats’ pitching rotation and defensive scheme.
“Samantha played some for us last year at third,” Robinette said. “She was a starter early and then went down with some health issues. She came back and filled in and did a fine job when Taylor Norman was hurt. She is a very good defensive third baseman and a solid hitter. She’ll do a fine job for us.”
Freshman Taylor Napier is Curry’s backup at third.
At catcher, junior Chastidy Wiley seems to have the inside nod.
“She’s been our backup for a couple of years,” Robinette said of Wiley. “So I think that she’s ready to move in. She’s had a real good preseason and has done a real good job defensively and offensively so far for us. I think that she’ll do a fine job behind the plate.
Sophomore Summer Collins is Wiley’s likely backup. Collins is also expected to see time in the outfield. Kendell Bowen will also catch.
The race for the starting nod at first base is wide open. Pressing for playing time are sophomore Kiana Hill, Antonia Hill, Ward and Hannah Sedlock.
“We’ve got a host of players at first base,” Robinette said. “Nobody really has any varsity experience. The battle rages on at first base.”
In the outfield, Antonia Hill returns as last year’s starting left fielder but may also see time on the infield. Collins may also see time in center. Hall started in right last year and will likely play there when not pitching.
Junior Hannah Kolovich is another option for Logan in the outfield. She was also a member of the LHS basketball team along with Collins, Ward, Toppings and others.
“She has some experience for us in the outfield in both center and right,” Robinette said of Kolovich. “She’s a real good defensive player.”
Ciara Conley is also pressing for playing time in the outfield.
“She was probably our most improved pitcher in the summer,” Robinette said of Conley. “She’s done a real good job for us.”
Airyonna Scales, a junior, can also play any of the outfield positions as well as Ciera Collier, Autumn Holcomb, Queen, Kirk and Jude.
“We have a lot of interchangeable parts,” Robinette said. “I think we are more interchangeable than we have been in the past. We’ve got to replace some veterans that we lost to graduation but I think that we have the talent to do that. We just have to put the pieces together.”
Robinette said he’s optimistic about the season.
“It should be an interesting team. We’re going to get better as the season goes,” he said. “By tournament time I think that we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
Robinette said the post-season competition in Logan’s new regional will be tougher.
“It’s a very formidable region,” he said. “I’m not so sure the section is any tougher but the region is a whole lot tougher. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Logan, which always played one of the toughest schedules in the state, will be put to the test again this spring.
The Lady Cats have a home-and-home with new regionals teams Winfield, Point Pleasant and Lincoln County and will also take on Class AA county rival Chapmanville and Class A county foe Man in a pair of games.
Logan also has a home-and-home with Scott and is set to play in two tournaments — the Chapmanville Lady Tigers Invitational (April 5-6) and the Best of the Best Tournament at Buffalo (April 12-13).
The season opener is set for next Tuesday, March 19 at home against Winfield. Logan then hosts George Washington on March 20, South Charleston on March 21 and Shady Spring, a new addition to the schedule, on March 22.
The state tournament is scheduled to be played May 22-23 at Jackson Memorial Park in Vienna.
“We have a real difficult schedule,” Robinette said.
Robinette’s coaching staff is the same as assistants Jason Davis, Lindsay Noe and Alice Hensley return. Noe, the starting catcher on Coach Robinette’s back-to-back Class AAA state championship teams of 2001 and 2002 which went 33-4 and 33-5, joined the staff last season.
“My assistants have done a tremendous job of coaching and getting these kids ready to play,” Robinette said.
Robinette said his team is ready to go.
“With the success of the girls’ basketball team that has given us some more energy,” he said. “When those girls came back to practice on Monday that got us going. We’re looking forward to the season. It’s a challenge but we’re going to get better as the season goes. We’re not rebuilding. We’ve got fine talent. We’re reloading and we expect again to be in the state tournament. That’s our goal every year and we have not lowered our expectations at all but it is definitely a more difficult region.”
The weather does not look good for Tuesday’s opener with a high temperature of only 42 degrees in the forecast. Rain is expected on Monday.
It’s been an up-and-down late winter. Last Sunday, temperatures soared to 80 degrees, then winter returned with cold temperatures in the 40s and 30s with light snow this week.
“We’re a little bit behind right now because of the bad weather and we had six people who played on that very successful basketball team at the state tournament. They are a bit behind but they are working real hard at it,” Robinette said.
Logan High School
2013 Softball Schedule
March 19: Winfield, 5:30 p.m.
March 20: George Washington, 6 p.m.
March 21: South Charleston, 5:30 p.m.
March 22: Shady Spring, 5:30 p.m.
March 23: at Scott, 12 p.m.
March 25: Lincoln County, 6 p.m.
March 26: at Chapmanville, 5:30 p.m.
March 29: at Winfield, 5:30 p.m.
April 4: James Monroe (DH), 1 p.m.
April 5: vs. Lincoln County (at Chapmanville), 7 p.m.
April 6: vs. Herbert Hoover (at Chapmanville), 11 a.m.
April 6: vs. Poca (at Chapmanville), 3 p.m.
April 8: at Point Pleasant, 5:30 p.m.
April 9: at Sherman, 5:30 p.m.
April 10: Man, 5:30 p.m.
April 11: Scott, 5:30 p.m.
April 12-13: at Best of the Best tourney at Buffalo, TBA
April 17: Point Pleasant, 5:30 p.m.
April 18: at Lincoln County, 5:30 p.m.
April 19: at Shady Spring, 5:30 p.m.
April 20: at Buckhannon-Upshur (DH), 1 p.m.
April 23: Chapmanville, 5:30 p.m.
April 24: at Man, 5:30 p.m.
April 25: Sherman, 5:30 p.m.
April 27: Pikeview (DH), 1 p.m.
April 29: at South Charleston, 5:30 p.m.