CHAPMANVILLE — It was a strange night for the Man High School softball team to say the least.
The Lady Billies had not one, but two games suspended by rain on Thursday night as Man took part in Chapmanville’s Corey “Bird” Price First Responders Lady Tigers Invitational Tournament at Chapmanville Regional High School.
Man (3-1) wasn’t able to finish either game but definitely held its own against two very good teams in higher classifications.
The Class A Lady Billies were trailing Class AA No. 2-ranked Ritchie County 6-4 in the fourth inning when it was called by the umpires due to rain.
Ritchie County (8-1), which split in its Chapmanville tourney games on Wednesday night, was supposed to face Class AAA No. 2 Lincoln County in Thursday’s nightcap at Chapmanville’s Ronnie Ooten Field but instead packed up and bolted for home.
The rain had subsided and Lincoln County had already arrived and was wanting to play, so the coaches from Man and Lincoln County got together and decided to play each other.
It would be Man against Lincoln County instead of Ritchie County against Lincoln County.
They made it all the way to the top of the fifth inning, and, as fate would have it, the game was called due to rain with the Lady Panthers holding a slim 2-1 lead.
Neither game will likely be finished and will go into the record books as suspended games.
So it was an 0-0 showing by the Lady Billies.
Man, however, was able to play toe-to-toe with two of the best teams in Class AA and 3A. That could bode well for the Lady Billies when they enter Class A post-season play in early May.
Man could be a team to be reckoned with in the road to Vienna and the state tournament.
“With the weather conditions and everything I thought that it was a fairly solid outing by us,” said Man assistant coach Billy Jack Dickerson, who has been standing in of late for head coach Randy Epperly who has been feeling ill. “We started out ranked No. 3 in the state in the preseason poll and went over to Sherman and got beat 1-0 and dropped out of the early ratings but that’s not what we’re concerned about. We want to play good teams and clearly, Ritchie County and Lincoln County are two quality teams. We hit the ball against good pitching and that’s what I wanted to see. We made some good defensive plays with the conditions so I was pretty pleased with their effort today.”
Man seemed to be coming back against Ritchie County but were not allowed to complete the game.
Ritchie led 6-0 after plating two runs in the first and four in the second but the Lady Billies stormed back with a four-spot in the top of the third and seemed to be putting the Rebels on the ropes.
DH Tabby Ferguson led off with a single and scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-1.
Kelly Grimmett then singled and Summer Sword laced a hard-smashing RBI single to left to cut the deficit to 6-2.
Man continued to hit Ritchie County pitcher Kenna Ray hard as Cari Blair ripped an RBI double to center to trim the Rebel lead to 6-3. She then later scored on a wild pitch as the margin was cut to 6-4.
All four runs were scored with no outs.
Ray then settled down and was able to get out of the jam.
Man pitcher Taylor Tomblin then got out Ritchie County in the bottom of the third.
The Lady Billies stepped up in the top of the fourth looking to continue the rally.
Man’s Casey Albright took the first pitch for a ball before the umpires called the teams off the field due to the cold rain which was coming down harder.
After about 25 minutes the game was called and Ritchie County got on the bus and went home.
Ray had put the Rebels on top 2-0 with a two-run homer to right in the first inning. She then slapped a two-run shot to center in the second. Ray had three home runs in the tourney as she hit an opposite field homer to left center in Wednesday night’s 3-1 loss to host Chapmanville.
Tomblin ended up striking out three and walking six in three innings.
“We got down early 6-0 on Ritchie County then we came up and started to hit the ball as we got it to 6-4,” Coach Dickerson said. “I felt the momentum had switched in our direction. Their pitcher had started to lose a little bit of control and we were taking advantage of that. We were stinging it pretty good. It was an unusual evening to say the least.”
Man took a 1-0 lead on Lincoln County in the second game as Madison Keffer was safe on an error and scored on another Lady Panther error in the second inning.
Lincoln County then plated two in the fourth on Tomblin as Megan Tilly tripled to right and scored on Sarah Pennington’s infield RBI single to tie it 1-1. Amy Lambert’s RBI single to left put LCHS on top.
Tomblin had four strikeouts and issued two walks.
Brooke West pitched for LC. She fanned five and walked one in four innings of work. The Lady Billies’ lone hit was a two-out single by Emilee Osborne in the fourth.
Man was scheduled to return to the Chapmanville tourney with a pair of games on Saturday.
Dickerson said neither suspended game will be completed.
“We don’t have an opportunity to go to their place and we don’t play either team at any point of the season, so it is what it is,” he said.
The Lady Billies have a number of games scheduled this week.
On Monday, Man goes to Charleston Catholic for a 6 p.m. contest. Then on Tuesday, Man is set to host new Class A sectional foe Tug Valley in a 5:30 p.m. game. On Wednesday, Man goes to Class AAA county rival Logan for a 5:30 p.m. matchup. Then on April 11-13, the Lady Billies head to Buffalo for the annual Best of the Best tournament.