Oceana’s 11-12 softball all-stars made history in winning the District 2 championship last Saturday night.
The team, which beat Welch, 13-6, at Charles Jones Memorial Field in Mullens, is believed to be the first Oceana team to advance to the state tournament.
“I’ve told the girls from day one that this is a team sport,” said Oceana manager Richard Paynter. “Every girl had to give 110 percent from start to finish. Every time I would say 110 percent, they would say ‘from start to finish.’”
Welch grabbed a 4-2 lead in the top of the third, aided by some Oceana fielding miscues.
Oceana got it all back and more with five runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good.
“We had a bad inning, but I tell the girls it doesn’t matter whether you’re up two or down two, you just have to go out there and play hard,” Paynter commented.
Ashton Adkins punched a two-run double to right field to knot the game at 4-4.
A passed ball and a couple of bases loaded walks allowed the Wyoming Countians to score three more runs and take a 7-4 lead.
Welch whittled away at the margin, scoring a run in the fourth and another in the fifth to cut it to 7-6.
Oceana erupted with six in its half of the fifth to put the game out of reach.
Lora Cline, who went the distance to get the win, shut out Welch in the sixth.
“I’m proud of Lora,” Paynter stated. “She had a rough inning (in the third) but she came back and worked her way out of it.”
Defense was a key to the win, the manager said.
“I’m a believer that defense wins championships,” commented Paynter. “Batting and getting hits is nice, but the less runs you can hold the other team to, the less you have to score to win. These girls play defense.”
Welch will also move on to the state tournament, which starts in Beckley on Saturday.
“I give Welch credit,” Paynter said. “They have a great team, and I was glad they made us work as hard as they did.”