PARKERSBURG — To call Buffalo softball anything but a Class A power would be inaccurate.
Even so, that doesn’t mean the school stands immune to down times.
Coming into the 2021 season, Bill Rasnake’s club was young with a freshman pitcher and saw a young group making up the bulk of the lineup. However, in the midst of those young batters stood a seasoned Class A player capable of putting a team on her back: Abby Darnley.
The Bison started out on a rough note then got on a roll before getting shut down by Covid-19. But afterward, the group from Putnam County came back in a huge way with Darnley leading the charge.
By the time everything was said and done, Darnley pounded out an incredible stat line with a .661 batting average, four home runs, and 39 stolen bases.
Today, she’s being recognized as the leader of another group of players as the captain of the Class A all-state first team as voted on by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
She emerged from a deep field that included Wahama pitcher Mikie Lieving, catcher Amber Wolfe, Ritchie County ace Chloe Elliott and Petersburg’s Lauren Alt along with herself.
Seven players from state tournament qualifiers Wahama, Midland Trail, Petersburg and Ritchie County join Darnley on the top team.
Undefeated champion Wahama received honors for three players in sophomore pitcher Lieving, shortstop Lauren Noble and catcher Wolfe.
Lieving, who finished off Ritchie County in the state final, hurled every inning for White Falcons head coach Chris Noble. Her stats being just as impressive as the feat of endurance. Lieving compiled a 23-0 record with a .556 earned run average and struck out 212 in 159 innings.
Her battery mate Wolfe brought the power throughout the Falcons run to the program’s first state championship. She batted .473 with nine doubles, a triple, three home runs and drove in 27 runs while striking out just twice.
Noble provided a similar offensive attack from the No. 4 spot in the lineup. She hit .523 with 16 doubles, three triples, four home runs and 34 RBIs.
Runner-up Ritchie County sees Elliott ascend to the highest of honors for the third time in as many seasons. The Rebel hurler rose to the top of her game one final time by helping her group to within fourteen innings of a state championship. Along the way, she compiled a 20-1 record over 165 innings, striking out 267 batters and walking 15 including just two at the state tournament.
Petersburg seniors Jenna Burgess and Alt snare spots after making sure 2019 Class AA runner-up Vikings didn’t miss a beat during the first year in their new home. Alt provided consistent power from the leadoff spot with a .447 average, 11 home runs and 27 RBIs. Burgess takes up a utility spot after playing multiple positions and batting .409 with seven bombs and 24 RBIs.
Senior Emmie Lopetrone (.393 BA, 13 RBIs, 66 2/3 IP, 6-0, 70 strikeouts and a 1.78 ERA) represents Midland Trail as the second utility player voted on to the team. She took the ball as the ace on the mound for most of the year for Candace Young’s Patriots.
Rounding out the pitching is Man sophomore Morgan Cooper (18-2, 0.34 ERA in 124 IP with 256 strikeouts). The Hillbillies advanced to a regional final against Wahama, with Cooper playing a big role in helping to get them there.
Joining Noble and Alt in the infield are Wheeling Central senior Jarika Baylor (.527 BA, five 2B, three 3B, nine HR, and 30 RBIs), Sherman junior Hailea Skeens (school record .574 BA, 33 runs scored, 12 2B, nine HRs and 42 RBIs) and Madonna’s Landry Bone (.508 BA, eight 2B, 3B, 6 HR, and 28 RBIs).
The outfield consists of Ravenswood sophomore Hattie Jo Kennedy (.607 BA, 37 H, 12 2B, 4 3B, 14 RBIs and a .934 slugging percentage batting leadoff for head coach Cindi Carmichael), St. Marys freshman Zoey Winland (.489 BA, 44 H, 9 2B, 8 3B, 4 HRs, 32 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 29 games) and Moorefield’s senior Remi Hinkle (.450 BA, 7 HRs, 38 RBIs and 17 stolen bases).
The final catcher spot went to Tug Valley junior Emily Hatfield (.440 BA, 11 2B, 5 3B, 8 HRs, 34 runs scored, 36 RBIs and 22 SBs).
Two other girls standing out at multiple positions and earning themselves the final utility spots are Greenbrier West senior Caley Chrisman (.609 BA, four HRs, and 44 RBIs) and Wirt County’s do-it-all senior Maddy Richards (.606BA, 6 2B, 6 3B, 2 HR, 31 RBIs, 29 runs scored with zero strikeouts alongside 143 strikeouts in 107 innings pitched with a 2.29 ERA in all but three starts for the Tigers).
Sherman pitcher Chloe Treadway captains the second team. She possessed the unenviable task of following Class A state championship winning pitcher and 2019 all-state first team captain Autumn Thompson on the mound.
P – Mikie Lieving, Wahama, soph.
P – Chloe Elliott, Ritchie County, sr.
P – Morgan Cooper, Man, soph.
IF – Lauren Alt, Petersburg, sr.
IF – Jarika Baylor, Wheeling Central, sr.
IF – Hailea Skeens, Sherman, jr.
IF – Lauren Noble, Wahama, jr.
IF – Landry Bone, Madonna, so.
OF – Hattie Kennedy, Ravenswood, so.
OF – Remi Hinkle, Moorefield, sr.
OF – Zoey Winland, St. Marys, fr.
C – Abby Darnley, Buffalo, jr. (captain)
C – Emily Hatfield, Tug Valley, jr.
UTIL – Maddy Richards, Wirt County, sr.
UTIL – Emmie Lopetrone, Midland Trail, sr.
UTIL – Amber Wolfe, Wahama, so.
UTIL – Jenna Burgess, Petersburg, sr.
UTIL – Caley Chrisman, Greenbrier West, sr.
P – Chloe Treadway, Sherman, so. (captain)
P – Autumn Hall, Tug Valley, jr.
P – Sydney Wilson, Clay-Battelle, sr.
IF – Olivia Dodd, Ritchie County, so.
IF – Katie Darnley, Buffalo, jr.
IF – Alyvia Pittman, Ritchie County, jr.
IF – Aubrey McCoy, Charleston Catholic, fr.
IF – Mad Daughtry, Madonna, sr.
IF – Ashlee Tomblin, Man, jr.
OF – Kameron Beck, Williamstown, so.
OF – Maddison Champ, Petersburg, sr.
C – Sydney Sheets, Midland Trail
UTIL – Kymberly Minnich, Petersburg, sr.
UTIL – Meghan Gill, Midland Trail, jr.
UTIL – Josalyn Lipscomb, Doddridge County, so.
UTIL – Taylor McHenry, Gilmer County, jr.
UTIL – Emilee Canterbury, James Monroe, sr.
UTIL – Tori Humphries, Moorefield, sr.
Class A Honorable Mention
Lindsay Keller, Williamstown; Hannah Casey, Charleston Catholic; Mahayla Nicholas, St. Marys; Leah Loudin, Tyler Consolidated; Grace Everly, Williamstown; Victoria Ames, East Hardy; Carlee Muncy, Man; Alyson Simmons, Moorefield; Marissa Jeffrey, Ritchie County; Chelsea Thompson, Sherman; Paige Shaffer, Tucker County; Cassidy Griffey, Tug Valley; Madison Campbell, Midland Trail; Gracie O’Neill, Moorefield; Desiree Taylor, St. Marys; Darryn Loughridge, Webster County; Haley Moats, Pendleton County’ Emma Whipkey, Cameron; Hiadyn Bland, Magnolia; Shyanna White, Magnolia; Braelee Brown, Greenbrier West; Raven Fulks, Paden City; Jocelyn Heckert, South Harrison; Sierra Garlic, River View; Bailey Coleman, Hannan; Mariah Huffman, Pendleton County; Jacklyn Barnett, Man.