GLEN DALE - ''It's one more step.''
Someone in the crowd yelled that after John Marshall wrapped up the West Virginia Class AAA Region One, Section Four championship on Wednesday night.
The statement pretty much echoed the thoughts of Monarchs coach Ed West and his team, who viewed the sweep of Morgantown as part of a journey toward a second straight state championship.
John Marshall’s Kristen Lewicki (7) tries to beat out the throw while Morgantown’s Nicole Walker stretches to make the catch at first during Wednesday’s game.
''They've got their eyes on the prize'', West said following the 3-0 and 12-11 triumphs at John Marshall High School.
The Monarchs (28-3), winners of 22 straight, will face University in a regional semifinal at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 9 at Mylan Park. The winner of that game will play for a berth in the state tournament one week later.
It was a draining and tiring day, and night, for both teams. So, West thinks the time off will be a benefit, physically and mentally.
''It's a good thing for us,'' he said. ''I think we're tired and a few days off will do us good.
''We have a week off. So, I'll give them a few days off and we'll go hard again next week and see what happens.''
Maybe no one was more exhausted that JM ace Amy Rotriga.
The senior picked up the compete-game victory in Game 1 and then earned the triumph after throwing six innings of relief in Game 2. All told, she struck out 15 and walked four. She also slapped two singles and knocked in three runs in the nightcap.
''Amy lost a little bit of her effectiveness (in Game Two) because she was tired,'' West said. ''That's a lot of pitches to throw in one day. I'm just proud of how she gutted it out. She's a gutsy player. She hung in there and got the job done.''
JM jumped out to a 12-6 through 4, but the Mohigans rallied to trim the deficit to three, 12-9, heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Rotriga got the first two batters of the inning to fly out before Devan Purdue singled.
Nicole Walker followed with a mammoth two-run blast to left that brought Morgantown to within one, 12-11.
Kelcy Shreves then laced a double giving Taylor Scudiere a chance to tie the game. But Rotriga struck her out to end it.
JM's victory was its fifth of the season against Morgantown in five tries. It was also the third one-run triumph. The Monarchs won, 5-4, in last week's OVAC semifinals.
''You have to understand, Morgantown is a good team,'' West said. ''They play a good brand of softball.
''To be honest, I was a little nervous coming in here. I knew they were going to play hard and they have a nice lineup of hitters.
''Amy pretty much controlled them the first game and then when she got tired (in Game 2) they started hitting the ball better.''
Rotriga, as usual, wasn't the only hero for the Monarchs. Batters up and down the order contributed, especially in Game 2. The big blow there was a two-run homer off Sissy George's bat in the third. She also had a double and finished with three RBI.
''She hit the ball well,'' West said. ''I know Hanna Rogerson is hitting the ball well and Kylie (Howard) had a couple of nice hits.''
Howard had three RBI in Game 2 and two hits. Kristen Lewicki also had two hits, as did Morgan Watson.
''I know we got plenty of key hits and I knew we needed to score some runs to win (Game 2),'' West said. ''I didn't think we'd need 12, but I knew they'd score some runs.''
Rogerson had two of JM's three RBI in Game 1, with Athena Sayrie having the other to go along with two hits.