Jackson Field in Vienna is the goal for six area softball teams as they enter regional semifinal play tonight.
— Liberty, last year’s Class AA runner-up, hosts Wyoming East at 7 p.m. The 10-12 Raiders spent much of the season rebuilding, but looked fully reloaded as they swept through the AA Section 3 tournament.
Behind freshman pitcher Sam Pauley, Liberty downed Westside 8-0 and took two games from Independence, 4-0 and 5-4.
While Pauley sharpened her control and developed an array of pitches, coach Mark Workman moved players around until he solidified the Raiders’ defense.
Their batting averages are deceiving, as many of their hits came in the last half or so of the campaign. Sophomore right fielder Savanna Caron leads the charge with a .371 average, while senior third baseman Randi Wright is hitting .349 and senior second baseman Katie Muovich is at .335 and junior catcher Andrea Roles bats .310.
Liberty did not meet Wyoming East (7-11) during the regular season. The Warriors have been a perennial Section 4 champion, only to fall in the regionals each year, and would like nothing better than to play the spoiler this year.
They have two solid pitchers in Emily Day and Larissa Davis, and like Liberty, have improved their hitting in the latter part of the season.
Infielder-outfielder Chelsea Duncan went from a 1 for 18 start at the plate to batting a smooth .380.
Left fielder Allyson Shiflett is hitting .305, and utility player Breanna Pertee is at .280.
— Shady Spring is hoping to continue its streak of semifinal upsets when the Tigers host James Monroe at 5:30 p.m.
The squads have faced off twice this season, with the 21-7 Mavericks prevailing in both games, 12-10 and 4-0. That means little, because Shady eliminated James Monroe in the semifinals last season and upset tournament favorite Independence the previous year.
Both teams have had strong pitching at times. Mavericks freshman Bekka Ratliff held the line until Mikayla Wickline came back from an injury. Ratliff held on for the 12-10, nine-inning win, and Wickline struck out 16 Tigers in the 4-0 rematch.
Shady sophomore all-state pitcher Katie Snodgress has overcome a rocky first half of the season and compiled a 2.64 ERA. She held Oak Hill to five hits while striking out nine Red Devils in a 4-2 win in the Section 1 final.
Her twin sister, Michelle Snodgress, and senior Autumn Kauff have also given the Tigers strong outings on the mound.
Katie Snodgress leads the team in batting with a .435 average. Michelle Snodgress, a second baseman-outfielder, is at .373, while first baseman-outfielder Alexis Coalson and infielder Sierra Richmond both bat .328.
Left fielder Haley Hunter paces James Monroe with a .425 batting average. Freshman third baseman Lane Shiflett is hitting .417, second baseman Hillary Hersman is at .407, followed by catcher Jenna Hancock (.398) and Hanna Pritt (.383).
— Nicholas County hosts Greenbrier East in a battle of evenly matched Class AAA squads at 5 p.m. in Summersville.
Nicholas is 18-10, following a doubleheader sweep of Woodrow Wilson in the sectionals. Junior Lauren Young and freshman Whitney Robinson have given the Grizzlies a strong 1-2 punch on the mound.
Shortstop Joni Tyree, a returning first-team all-stater, is smoking the ball at a .571 clip and has 30 runs and 22 RBIs.
Both pitchers can hit as well. Young bats .354 while Robinson is two points behind at .352. Kaitlyn Bradford is hitting .344.
Greenbrier East is 17-10 and getting outstanding performances on the mound from senior Brooke Bailey. The right-hander is 14-5 with a 2.22 ERA.
The Spartans’ defense has been outstanding, and the attack is coming on. Shortstop Karissa Coleman is hitting .320, while senior center fielder Micah Dolan and sophomore left fielder Ally King check in at .300 apiece.