Williamstown comes up short in LKC final

ELLENBORO – Rebel Field was quite the happy place Saturday morning for the Ritchie County softball team.

Leah Kuhn mashed a two-run fifth-inning bomb and fellow senior Kenna DeLancey dominated in the circle as the Rebels of head man Dave Mossor won their 10th consecutive Little Kanawha Conference softball championship by handing a game Williamstown squad a 3-0 setback.

DeLancey, who finished with a three-hit shutout, added a solo laser shot to right to go back-to-back with Kuhn and saddle Yellowjacket starter Nellie King with the mound loss.

“Kenna had 14 strikeouts and that thing was absolutely a shot,” Mossor said of his senior right-hander and her solo jack.

WHS shortstop Courtney Dotson reached on an infield single to start the game and promptly swiped second. However, DeLancey retired the next eight batters in order, six via the whiff, before Dotson doubled to right with two outs in the third. That threat was erased when Rebel catcher Ashley Cox fired to shortstop Kuhn, who was covering third for the tag-out when Dotson attempted to steal.

The Rebels had a couple of scoring chances in the early innings. DeLancey singled and stole second with two outs in the bottom of the first, but was left stranded.

In the third, No. 8 hitter Bre Edwards singled to right and leadoff hitter Tracy Lamp reached on an infield hit, but King (6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO) got out of the jam by retiring both Kuhn and DeLancey.

Yellowjacket Breagan Wright singled to left to open the fourth, but that was the final hit allowed by DeLancey, who held the WHS 3-through-9 hitters to a combined 0 for 17 with one walk issued to No. 7 hitter Jocey West in the fifth.

Ritchie County, which will play Wednesday in Ravenswood as the top seed in the Class AA sectional, threatened in the fourth. Cleanup hitter Kirsten Seese singled to center and was on third following a pair of wild pitches. With two outs, Jesse Hodge drew a free pass and moved to second on indifference, but King fanned Edwards to end it.

Coach Mossor’s lineup finally got to King the third time through the order. Lamp’s one-out single back through the box got things started in the fifth. Facing a 2-2 count, Kuhn got the pitch she was looking for and launched her two-run homer to center.

“She threw it right down the middle,” Kuhn said of the pitch. “Normally, she throws me an inside pitch or a really outside pitch, so I was kind of nervous, but I didn’t think about it and just swung the bat and it popped out (of the park).”

When asked if she knew it was gone when she hit it, Kuhn replied, “Oh, yeah. I was hoping and I was jumping around like ‘go, go.’ “

DeLancey jacked her solo line drive screamer to right with two strikes to account for the final run. Cox drew a two-out base on balls from King and Grace Chalos singled to center. With Cox at third and pinch-runner Madelyne Curfman at first, the Rebels weren’t able to break it completely open as King got Hodge to ground out.

Following the one-out walk to West in the fifth, DeLancey set down the final eight Yellowjackets in order. Six of those were strikeout victims and that included Kylie Powell, the final out of the game.

“We’ve come together as a team,” Kuhn added of the 16-7 Rebels this spring. “I’ve been to three state tournaments and going to the state tournament my senior year and winning it would be the best gift I could receive my senior year.”

Williamstown, which plays a Class A sectional doubleheader at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Doddridge County, will enter postseason play with a 10-13 record.

“I know Doddridge’s appearance here against Ritchie was a lot different than our appearance against Ritchie,” said WHS skipper Kayla Stanley. “We are ready to play them, get through sectionals and get to regionals.

“We’re just overall happy that we were here. The town had a pep rally for them. It’s a big deal for the whole school and the community too.”