WHEELERSBURG —With Wheelersburg winning the Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball championship, what the overwhelming majority of observers of the SOC II — and for that matter most of Southeastern Ohio — thought would happen did.
That’s because the Pirates, despite two serious challenges throughout the SOC II campaign, claimed the outright division championship for the sixth consecutive season —making it official as undefeateds following Monday’s makeup of a doubleheader sweep of visiting Eastern.
Wheelersburg, with 20-0 and 17-1 mercy-rule wins over Eastern inside Gene Bennett Park, went 15-0 in the SOC —part of now 20-1 overall.
An SOC II tilt against Valley was postponed and eventually altogether canceled, and is unlikely to be rescheduled.
It is the Orange and Black’s six consecutive conference title (also 2015 thru 2019) — as they also captured the SOC II crown in 2004 and 2008.
Perhaps the Pirates’ straight SOC II championships could have been seven, but the 2020 season was unfortunately canceled because of the coronavirus threat.
Wheelersburg was seriously challenged in two games — winning 14-10 at South Webster before being forced to rally for a dramatic 3-1 walk-off win over West.
In that rematch, the Pirates trailed 1-0 entering the bottom of the seventh and with their last at-bat, before they tied it at 1-1 — and Kiera Kennard clubbing a two-home run to win it.
Perhaps Monday was their easiest two triumphs, as anticlimactic as they were.
The only drama, in game one at least, involved freshman left-handed pitcher Andi Jo Howard — who threw a perfect game with eight strikeouts.
Howard faced 15 Eagle batters in the five-inning contest, and none reached base.
In game two, Hailey Conn pitched for Wheelersburg —and only allowed a fourth-inning run.
She struck out two in facing 20 total Eagles, while allowing an earned run on five hits with a walk.
The only other question was whether Wheelersburg would add to its 37 team home runs —and it did so in the second game when Boo Sturgill, who tripled for the Pirates’ longest hit in the opener, smacked a two-run shot in the third.
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