By TONY VIOLA
WHEELING - John Marshall softball seniors Morgan Watson and Athena Sayrie have taken different paths to get to where they are today.
Watson has been with the Monarchs all four years of her high school career, while Sayrie spent three years at Fairmont Senior before transfering to the Marshall County school.
Now, the two outfielders have agreed on the same path: join the military after graduation.
Watson has decided to serve her country in the Air Force.
''I wanted to travel and see the world and everything,'' the left fielder said. ''I thought that was a good place to do it. And they pay for my schooling and everything, so it just seemed like a good idea.''
Sayrie, the team's right fielder, will continue her softball career at the Coast Guard Academy.
''I was recruited by the softball coach (at the Coast Guard Academy),'' she said. ''When I got to looking at the majors, I saw they had architecture and marine engineering. Math and drawing are my two favorite things, so it was a win-win.''
JM softball coach Ed West thinks both will be successful.
''(Morgan's) a good-natured girl,'' West said. ''She plays hard, she's happy-go-lucky, and she's chosen the military and I think it's a good fit for her. I think she'll do really well in whatever she chooses to do.
''Athena, she just came to us this year. This is her first year on our team and she is a solid player. She's a really good student, too. I think she got a 31 on her ACT. She works hard in the classroom and works hard for us."
West also said that both have played a key role in the Monarchs' success this season as the team looks to repeat as West Virginia AAA champions and is currently ranked No. 1 in the state.
Both girls say West has done the same in preparing them for their future.
''I think he's been really inspirational,'' Sayrie pointed out. ''Our before talks on the bus, he just knows what to say and how to get someone pumped up for a game. Even if you've had a bad day at school, you kinda just forget about it because of the words of wisdom he gives.''
Added Watson: ''I definitely know how to take instructions now.''
Always a good lesson to learn before boot camp.
The Long Ballers
Will Bowser, Madonna: Bowser hit two homers in a win against Bishop Donahue.
Zac Roe, C.J. Beaver, Buckeye Trail: Roe hit two home runs, while Beaver added another in a win against Monroe Central.
Jacob Black, Monroe Central: Black hit one over the fence in a win against Buckeye Trail.
Stone Romano, Steubenville Catholic: Romano homered in a win against Beaver Local.
Kyle Elliott, Magnolia: Elliot hit a home run in a win against Cameron.
Zach Heasley, Luke Cooper, Paden City: Heasley and Cooper each hit two-run homers in a win against Cameron.
Logan Routt, Cameron: Routt homered in a loss to Paden City.
Shane Wellman, Jeremiah Fromhart John Marshall: Wellman hit a home run in a win against Morgantown, while Fromhart homered in a loss to Morgantown.
Josh Linn, Steubenville: Linn homered in a win against St. Clairsville.
Hunter Westlake, Bellaire: Westlake hit a home run in a win against West Muskingum.
Logan Routt, Cameron: Routt struck out 14 in a win against Paden City.
Brandon Stoneking, Valley: Stoneking fanned 10 in a loss to Tyler Consolidated.
Hannah Absalom, St. John: Absalom collected 12 Ks and threw a no-hitter in a win against Buckeye Trail before she fanned 10 in a win against Toronto.
Megan Heagney, Shaydside: Heagney sat down 12 in a win against Buckeye Local.
Paige Geanangle, Indian Creek: Geanangle struck out 10 in a win against Harrison Central.
Justin Riley, Union Local: Riley fanned 10 in a loss to St. Clairsville.