SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — 27 up, 27 down.
A perfect game in baseball, a perfect season for Wahama.
The Wahama softball team proved unbeatable this season, winning all-27 games by a combined total of 225-36.
In five games in the month of April, Wahama outscored opponents 47-1. May saw a 121-13 scoring advantage for the Lady Falcons, while WHS outscored its postseason foes 57-22 in June.
Wahama trailed in only five games this season, twice in the regular season, once in the regional round, and in two games at state.
After four shut outs in five games in April, the Red and White won their first six games of May by a combined 60-to-2, and were 11-0 a month after their season-opening 17-0 win at Eastern.
Ripley was the first team to claim a lead on the Lady Falcons, on May 17, going up 3-2 in the top of the sixth inning. The Lady Falcons tied the game in the following inning, and then won with an eighth inning walk-off single from senior Emma Gibbs.
Three days later and two shut out wins later, the Lady Falcons were down again, this time 1-0 against Tug Valley after a fifth inning error. WHS trailed 1-0 down to their final strike in the bottom of the seventh, when senior Deborah Miller came through with a solo home run on the fifth pitch of her at-bat. Leading off the bottom of the 10th inning, sophomore Mikie Lieving blasted a walk-off home to give Wahama the 2-1 victory.
WHS never trailed in its next game, but held off Point Pleasant for an 8-7 victory and the season sweep of the Lady Knights. Wahama then finished the month of May with three straight shut outs in Little Kanawha Conference play.
After outscoring opponents 27-to-7 in three sectional games, WHS claimed its 14th and final shut out of the year 2-0 over Man in the opening round of the Region IV tournament.
The Lady Falcons first postseason deficit came in the second game regional tournament, when the host Lady Hillbillies went up 2-0 in the second inning. Wahama took a 3-2 lead with back-to-back home runs by Emma Gibbs and Amber Wolfe in the following frame, and WHS added another run in the top of the sixth, but Man tied it at four in the home half of the sixth.
After three straight scoreless frames, Wahama exploded for seven runs in the 10th inning, securing its first-ever regional championship with an 11-4 win.
In their state debut, WHS gave up a run in the second and another in the third, before tying Petersburg with a two-run single from Miller in the top of the sixth. The Lady Vikings reestablished their lead in the home half of the inning, but in the top of the seventh, Wahama tied it at three on an Amber Wolfe single, and then took the lead for good on a three-run home run by Morgan Christian.
After holding on for the 6-5 win against Petersburg, WHS never trailed in a 6-3 win over Ritchie County later that night. RCHS was tied that game at two in the top of the third inning, but an RBI triple from Christian in the fourth reestablished the Lady Falcon lead.
Ritchie County defeated Petersburg to make its way back to the Lady Falcons, and took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. WHS tied it at two with an RBI single by Gibbs and a sac-fly from Lauren Noble in the bottom of the first. Then the Lady Falcons took the lead for good with back-to-back doubles from Wolfe and Noble in the bottom of the third. WHS allowed just one more run before claiming its state championship with a 5-3 win.
The final meeting between Wahama and Ritchie County was the fifth between the schools. Wahama won 5-0, 5-0 and 6-0 in the regular season, before the 6-3 and 5-3 victories at state.
Ravenswood was Wahama’s next most common foe, losing to the Lady Falcons 6-0 and 9-0 in the regular season, as well as 9-4 and 10-1 in the sectional tournament.
The Lady Falcons had the same pitcher and catcher for all-27 games this season, both playing in their first varsity seasons, sophomores Mikie Lieving and Amber Wolfe.
Lieving struck out 238 batters in 176 innings this spring, while walking 35 and hitting 14. Lieving gave up 36 runs, 26 earned, and 119 hits. Wolfe caught nine runners trying to steal, and had just three passed balls behind the plate this season.
Third-year WHS head coach Chris Noble noted the benefit to having two reliable starters at pitcher and catcher.
“We’re set in several positions, but everybody knows in ball, pitching and catching are real important. It makes it real easy on the coaching staff to be set in those positions,” Noble said. “Our pitching and defense has been amazing all-year long, and even when someone messes up and makes an error, they pick each other up.”
The Lady Falcons finished with a team fielding percentage of .960 this season, committing 30 errors in 742 total chances.
After pitching her 27th complete game victory, and celebrating the state championship with her teammates, Lieving talked about what winning the championship meant to her.
“There’s so many emotions, I’m just so proud of these girls and this team, I love them all so much,” Lieving said. “I just want to pitch and do my best for the girls behind me, it’s the best feeling in the world doing that. They have always had my back, and it’s easy to pitch when they’re behind me.”
Lieving and Wolfe finished first and second on the team in hits, with 55 and 45 respectively. The two sophomores also tied for the team-high with four home runs apiece. Lieving was first in batting average (.585), runs scored (47) and stolen bases (16), while Wolfe was third in RBIs (32).
Wolfe serves the No. 3 hitter in the lineup, the catcher calling out plays between pitches, and the drummer in the dugout when the team needs a lift. The WHS sophomore talked winning the state championship in her first season, and her role as a team leader.
“It’s amazing, we’ve been working so hard to get to this point, just to be here is unreal, and it’s awesome,” Wolfe said. “Occasionally when it’s high stakes, I get a little nervous, but I’m always courageous. I believe in Mikie, that she’s going to throw the right pitch and that she’s got my back. My team’s got my back, so I’m not afraid to make mistakes. I’ve watched higher-level catchers direct their team, I’ve really learned from that, and to be able to lead my team to this victory has been an amazing experience.”
Lauren Noble — a junior starting shortstop and clean up hitter — led Wahama in RBIs (40) and extra-base hits (24) this season, while Morgan Christian — a sophomore starting in center field — drew a team-best 16 walks, and also hit by six pitches, twice as many as anyone else on the team.
Wahama hasn’t lost since May 12, 2019, a 7-0 setback in the regional tournament at Sherman.
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Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.