WELLSBURG - Wheeling Park softball coach Dee Davis has a very simple philosophy for winning: pitch well, play good defense and if you can hold the other team to a zero, you cannot lose.
Her Patriots weren't able to keep that goose egg on the visitors side of the scoreboard Wednesday afternoon against Brooke, however, junior pitcher Carly Greer and the Park defense did limit the Bruins to just a single tally, while the offense scratched out a pair to nail down a sectional crown.
Carly Greer allowed just three singles in the circle and freshman Colleen Tracy provided the big hit, what turned out to be a game-winning RBI single in the fourth inning, as the Patriots held on for a prized 2-1 victory against Brooke in a West Virginia Class AAA Region One, Section One final at Brooke High School.
The victory moves 18-5 Park into next week's Region One semifinal against the Section Two survivor, either Parkersburg or Parkersburg South, at the J.B. Chamber's I-470 Sports Complex. Meanwhile, Brooke coach Mike Wagner's squad finishes the season with a 12-16 mark, but gave the Patriots everything they had over the past two days.
"Wheeling Park has a very good program, and they really had their way with us in the regular season, but these girls kept working and gave them everything they could handle for a couple of games," Wagner said.
"Who knows, if a couple of things fall another way maybe it turns out different, but give Wheeling Park all the credit for getting it done."
Brooke, which was the visitors, actually struck first in the top of the third after No. 9 hitter Sabrina Duffy reached on a lead-off error, stole second and scored on Michaela Hinerman's base hit for a 1-0 lead. But the Patriots answered quickly in the bottom of the frame.
Keleigh Sidon singled with one out ahead of Marissa Tucker's infield base hit to deep shortstop as both runners advanced on a throwing error. Senior Kristin Slater's fielder's choice plated Sidon and the count was even at 1-1.
Things changed in the home-half of the fourth, and also got a little scary, in an inning that should have never been.
Kelsi Johnson's fly ball just outside the foul line leading off the fourth was dropped and the junior took advantage by a single two pitches later. While she was erased on sophomore Morgan Karnell's fielder's choice, it gave the Patriots a base runner they should not have had.
Karnell advanced to second on another fielder's choice and raced home from second base on Tracy's solid single to right. However, on the play, Brooke catcher Isabella Preston, trying to field the throw home, collided with Karnell and lay motionless on the field while an ambulance was called. The game was delayed for over 15 minutes while Preston was taken care of and taken to the hospital.
Brooke, which had its first two runners of the game reach without scoring in the first frame, did get a runner to second in the fifth, but Greer recorded eight consecutive outs to end the contest.
"Pitching and fielding are so important and you have to have them to win," Davis smiled. ''You can never lose if the other team has a zero. We are not hitting the ball as well as we have right now, but we got a couple in the right spots and we hit it hard at times.
"Overall, I am pleased with the way we played here, we played smooth. Carly (Greer) pitched very well and came back hard after relieving (Tuesday). But the biggest thing is that we are moving on and that is what really matters."