Behind Caitlyn Kassay, Clay-Battelle wins Game 1 vs. Moorefield

BLACKSVILLE — It’s been a year-long wait for the Clay-Battelle softball team, but it was worth every minute.
On the anniversary of being knocked out of postseason play by Moorefield, the Cee-Bees hosted the Yellow Jackets in the Class A Region II tournament on Wednesday.
This time Clay-Battelle prevailed 2-1 to take the first game in the best-of-three series.
“I’ve been waiting 365 days on this one — I think the whole team has,” C-B coach Butch Varner said. “It was nice to see our kids grow and respond differently than they did last year.”
Behind pitcher Caitlyn Kassay, who struck out 18 of the 26 hitters she faced, the Cee-Bees held Moorefield scoreless through five innings.
C-B (24-1) finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth, when sophomore Camren Watson’s double scored Alicia Keener the first run.
Moorefield (20-10) tied it in its next at-bat, but Clay-Battelle knew the situation it faced. It saw it against the exact same team the year before. This time, it knew how respond.
Rylee Burnette singled to get the momentum rolling before Kassay doubled her home.
Kassay sealed the victory in the circle in the seventh inning.
“As a senior, everyone looks to you to make those kinds of plays. You’re the oldest, you’ve been here the longest, and the pressure is on you when you step up there,” she said.
“There were two outs, and we had to get that run in to win that ball game. I feel like, being a senior, making those plays comes with age and playing the game as much as I have.”
While Moorefield entered as the lower-seeded team, it had yet to lose a Class A opponent before Wednesday’s matchup, going 6-0. Varner knew his team needed to be prepared for a fight entering the series.
“They are a championship-quality team, and I think they’re one of the favorites to win the state championship,” he said. “When adversity hit them tonight, they responded, and I think we displayed our mettle because we responded right back. That’s the mark of a good team.”
Clay-Battelle is one in away from its first state tournament appearance.
“I think it’s experience, trusting each other, and a genuine desire to take one more step than they did last year,” Varner said.
Kassay hopes her team is better equipped this time around.
“We’ve matured so much last year. We were happy then just to make it to regionals. Now we want to take it all. Everybody has that mindset, and everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid,” she said.
“We’re all just feeling each other – we feel like we have a shot, that little old Clay-Battelle from Podunk nowhere can get this done.”
The Cee-Bees visit Moorefield today for Game 2. If C-B wins, it will advance to the state tournament, while a loss would bring the series back to Blacksville for Game 3.

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