Pats, Cougars stand to return bulk of talent next season
CHARLES TOWN – High school softball in Jefferson County is done for the year, as sectional champion and top-ranked Class AAA powerhouse Musselman has ousted both Jefferson and Washington from the postseason tournament.
The Patriots were the last county team standing, but consecutive mercy-rule losses late last week to the Applemen saw Washington bounced from the playoffs following a season that showed promise for the future of both local programs.
The Cougars had been eliminated earlier in the week at Musselman after dropping the sectional opener to the rival Patriots in Charles Town.
Nevertheless, both local schools enjoyed moments of success this spring and each looks poised to return some of its top performers to their respective programs next season.
Washington ended the season 9-13, but the Patriots played several games this season against skilled opponents, including three games against No. 1 Musselman.
Jefferson finished with a 9-9 record after having started strong by winning seven of its first nine games, including two mercy-rule victories over longtime conference rival Martinsburg and a regular season series split with Washington.
The Patriots posted a 7-3 overall mark through mid-April before a seven-game losing streak took hold as season began to wind down, including a pair of tough losses on the road at ranked opponents John Marshall and Wheeling Park.
Junior Carly Jansure and freshman Jane Cabbiness each will have eligibility remaining next season after filling the Nos. 1 and 2 slots in the Washington pitching rotation. The Patriots had only two seniors on the roster this season.
Junior catcher Madison Dan managed the game behind the plate, while sophomore middle infielders Erin Lehman and Mikayla Willingham also gained valuable experience. All four players in the outfield position rotation also will have eligibility remaining.
First baseman Christina Collins is the only graduating starter Washington’s second-year head coach Amanda Orkoskey stands likely to lose next season.
It appears to be a similar situation at Jefferson.
The Cougars jumped out to a 7-2 record early on as sophomore pitcher and infielder Jenna Witt offered both quality innings on the mound and timely hits and power from the plate. But Jefferson struggled down the stretch and lost its last four games, including a pair of lopsided defeats in the playoffs.
Jefferson’s first-year head coach Tori Hutto stands to lose just three seniors, while returning several underclassmen starters including a strong sophomore contingent.
Witt should be joined next season by fellow classmates and infielders Sierra Viands, Ciera Ruffner and Kady DeSarno, as well as sophomore outfielders Mallory Jackson, Kaitlyn Boyd and Sierra Shepherd.
Juniors Gabby Lovell, Casey Lyons and Rachael Bulman also stand to return to the lineup for the Cougars. – Jeff Brammer