Clay-Battelle softball gearing up for regional rematch with Moorefield

BLACKSVILLE — It’s been a season to remember for the Clay-Battelle softball team, with just one blemish on a 24-game game schedule that already includes an OVAC championship and sectional crown.
But the Cee-Bees (23-1) still have a major hurdle in front of them to get to the state tournament for the first time in school history. They will begin the regional tournament at 5 p.m. today, hosting Region I, Section 2 champion Moorefield in a best-of-3 series.
Game 2 will be Tuesday night in Moorefield and if needed, Game 3 will be back at C-B on Wednesday. All games will be at 5 p.m.
The Cee-Bees haven’t lost since April 1, a 6-4 defeat to Wheeling Central. Since then, C-B rattled off 15 wins in a row by an average of 8.6 runs per game. During that stretch, the Cee-Bees had nine shutouts, and for the entire season, they had 14 shutouts in 24 games.
Senior pitcher Caitlyn Kassay was responsible for a lot of the team’s success in the circle with a 15-1 record including 241 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.21 in 110 innings. She’s also the leader at the plate with a .569 batting average with seven home runs, 11 doubles, two triples and 46 RBIs.
Kassay, however, doesn’t have a clue what type of season she’s putting up with her pitching and at the plate — she wants to know at the end of the year because to her, individual accomplishments aren’t the goal.
“The goal is for team success,” Kassay said. “My focus for this season has been winning it all. I want this team and school to go to states. We talk all the time at practices about staying hungry and I think and I think that’s been a driving force in our success to far.”
To start the year, there was inexperience in the field, but Kassay, a Fairmont State signee, thinks the team has grown defensively as the year’s gone on and players have stepped up in new roles.
One of those is Rylee Burnette, who moved to centerfield from shortstop and then from shortstop to catcher when Ronda Petrucci got hurt.
“We lost our starting catcher and Rylee Burnette really stepped up for us,” Kassay said. “The whole team has been willing to sacrifice for the greater good. Ry used to catch for me when we were really young, but hasn’t missed a beat since getting behind the plate again.”
This is a revenge series for C-B after losing to Moorefield in the regional tournament last year in two games, though it was Moorefield that had the homefield advantage. The Yellow Jackets went on to finish as the state runner-up to Wheeling Central.
The Cee-Bees and Yellow Jackets haven’t played this season, but like C-B, Moorefield (20-9) had success against Class A teams.
All nine of its losses were to out-of-state schools or to state schools in higher classifications (13-0 loss to Class AA Petersburg). against West Virginia Class A teams, the Yellow Jackets went 6-0. Otherwise, they played 23 games against teams in high classifications, which was a conscious effort by coach Tammy Ayers.
“We look forward to playing Clay-Batelle again this year,” she said. “They have a good, solid team, and over the last few years, my assistant, Julie Markwood, and I have worked diligently to add more solid, competitive teams to our schedule. Hopefully, that works out to our advantage again this year as we travel to play C-B.”
The Yellow Jackets are averaging 7 1/2 runs per game and wiped out Tucker County and East Hardy in the sectional tournament by a combined 37-5 score in three games.
Rebekah Markwood will likely get the start on the rubber to oppose Kassay. Markwood tossed seven innings with nine strikeouts in Moorefield’s last game against East Hardy to win the sectional.

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