AKRON — In capturing yet another state softball championship, the Wheelersburg Pirates only added to the high school’s already full — and even almost overflowing — trophy case.

But with Saturday’s 6-0 shutout over Indian Lake in the state title tilt inside Akron’s historic yet toasty Firestone Stadium, these same Pirates only rewrote their personal history books.

For those into counting, that’s now back-to-back state championships —part of three in school history and four championship game appearances, all in Division III.

Wheelersburg sophomore Kaylynn Carter

Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com

Wheelersburg was first in the state softball tournament in 2004, then under head coach Teresa Ruby for the past decade —the Pirates have three-peated repeated for Final Four trips.

Those would be 2015, 2016 and 2017, and again in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

The Pirates played in the 2017 final —after winning their first state championship a year earlier.

But here’s where Wheelersburg gets spicy and souped-up with its numbers — as this season’s Pirates played 32 games, and won every single solitary one.

Last season, Wheelersburg won its first three bouts, then lost to Division I Teays Valley 10-5.

They didn’t lose again —finishing 27-1.

Again, for those into counting, that’s 56 consecutive victories for one softball squad —something even almighty Oklahoma’s softball program can’t quite say.

Wheelersburg senior first baseman Macee Eaton

Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com

Their last postseason loss was the Division III state semifinal from 2021 —to eventual state champion Fairview.

The four-Pirate senior class —of which only first baseman Macee Eaton and centerfielder Kiera Kennard were three-year starters —went an jaw-dropping 85-3.

This season, their rock-solid defense —behind standout pitchers AndiJo Howard (left-hander) and Kaylynn Carter (right-hander) —didn’t even allow 50 total runs, as opponents only totaled 44.

Only two games, 7-6 against visiting Northwest and 7-5 against neutral-site Bullit East (Ky.), were within two runs —and the Pirates’ 9-6 Southeast District championship triumph over Wellston was their closest competition in sectional, district AND regional competition since 2019.

They pitched 18 shutouts of those 32 wins.

Of course, there’s always the canceled campaign of 2020 —thanks to the coronavirus threat.

But in this back-to-back state championship run, of which Carter reminded fans with a hand-made sign saying “2 In a Row”, the Pirates are an astounding 59-1.

Ruby’s record in a decade at the school stands at 225-13, part of 488-115 overall.

Wheelersburg freshman left fielder Ava Estep

Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com

She will, in all likelihood, win her 500th career game next season.

She’s never lost a Southern Ohio Conference Division II affair —131 of those to be exact, part of a winning streak now at 136.

Ruby often downplays such staggering numbers and stunning winning streaks, and instead said Saturday during the Pirates’ postgame press conference that the players just do what they do.

Every single year —in every single game.

“We have seen it all. I asked them (Pirates) before the game today ‘what do I need to tell you new that you need to do’ and they all just looked at me. I said ‘Exactly’. They’ve seen it, they’ve done it. Now they need to just do it again,” said Ruby. “There’s a comfort level in that. There’s nothing that they have to do any differently. There’s nothing that they are going to see that they haven’t already seen. Just be themselves. They did that 32 times.”

But Ruby reiterated that playing Pirate softball isn’t simply about just showing up to Gene Bennett Park in Wheelersburg on game days —and automatically wins will come.

Wheelersburg’s players put in the practice time — almost year-round.

Ruby said the Pirates are the ones which make the machinery run, and her job in the third-base coaching box and dugout a simple one.

“There’s ton a work involved. But I don’t have to ask them. They do it and they do it on their own,” said the coach. “My job is pretty easy. It really is. They put in the time 12 out of 12 months. They are putting in the work, not waiting for me to say to go do something. But that’s the kind of dedication and commitment it takes if you want to do this.”

Wheelersburg sophomore second baseman Emma Smith

Hard work indeed, but as Ruby closed her comments on Saturday, she discussed the Pirates’ family fun quotient.

Of course, when Wheelersburg wins at historic levels like the past decade, it all should be fun.

“We’re a family, we have fun together and we enjoy spending time together,” said Ruby. “We fight sometimes like a family and we make up like a family, but we have fun, and that’s what it’s about.”

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved