University softball claims 1st state title in program history, downing Washington in decisive game of championship series

CHARLESTON — For the first time ever, the University Hawks are state softball champions. 

The Hawks defeated Washington 10-0 in the decisive game of the Class AAA championship series to claim the 2024 state title on Thursday evening at Little Creek Park in South Charleston.

“We’ve worked hard for this moment,” UHS coach Mindy Parks said. “It goes all the way back to August with the flex days. We kept working and working this season and we never let up. I feel that we got better and better all year throughout the lineup and figured everything out at the right time. The pieces came together when we needed them to and I couldn’t be more proud of this group of girls.”

UHS entered the day needing one win before two losses to secure the championship. After the Patriots defeated Cabell Midland 6-3 earlier in the day in an elimination game, UHS awaited in the title series. 

Washington took the first game 6-3, forcing a decisive game that would see one team through to its first-ever title.

The Hawks responded positively in the final game, however, with a 10-0 mercy-rule shutout that earned them the title of 2024 state softball champions.

University poses for a photo after defeating Washington Patriots in the AAA championship game on Thursday in Charleston. (William Wotring/The Dominion Post)

“We weren’t waiting for anything in the first game and getting out easily,” Parks said. “We had four outs on four pitches to start so we talked to the girls about being patient and we ended with three runs in the first game. We knew we would be tough to beat twice, especially with Washington playing their third game of the day. Hats off to that team, they are so talented and tough.”

The opening two innings saw scoreless action but both sides threatened with a pair of baserunners early on. 

The Hawks got it going in the top of the third inning when Adalyn Brown hit a leadoff single. She advanced to second on a fielder’s choice and with two outs, sophomore Olivia Masoner stepped up with a double that gave UHS the first run of the game.

Freshman Josalyn Phillips then doubled the lead with a single of her own, her first of four RBI in the game, to give UHS a 2-0 lead.

Sophomore Maddie Campbell finished strong in the first game in the circle and got the call to spin it in the finale. She gave up six hits in the six-inning shutout while also making some solid defensive plays.

“We knew that we had to come out and give everything we had after losing the first game,” Campbell said. “We had a little meeting, the seniors made us regroup a little and we came out and did what we had to do.”

Campbell gave up just one hit between the third and fourth innings, including retiring the Patriots in order in the fourth, helping her team preserve its slim lead, 2-0.

University’s Maddie Campbell (3) delivers a pitch in the AAA championship game on Thursday in Charleston. (William Wotring/The Dominion Post)

“All I try to do is go in there the same way every game and throw strikes, let my defense work, and make sure I limit as many runs as possible,” she said. “Olivia (Masoner) does a great job of keeping me calm. If I ever get a little nervous I just sing a little song to myself.”

The UHS offense echoed the effort of their pitcher entering the top half of the fifth inning. Lexi Elza hit a leadoff single, then two consecutive errors by Washington loaded the bases for the Hawks. Phillips stepped up again for UHS with another single that brought home two runs to double the lead, 4-0. 

The next batter, Sophia Lehosit, did the same as Phillips with a two-RBI single of her own that made the lead 6-0 in the top of the fifth inning.

“Josalyn has been so good for us down the stretch and in some huge moments this season,” Parks said. 

Ashlyn Weaver, who had a terrific two days in South Charleston for UHS, gave the Hawks a 7-0 advantage before the end of the inning with a sacrifice fly that scored Lehosit.

“Being able to come in and make an impact for the team is so important to me,” Weaver said. “Our bench helped us so much, having Olivia come back has been big. This week was all about winning as a team.”

A single for Washington and an error by UHS in the bottom of the fifth were negated once again by Campbell, who earned a huge strikeout to end the inning and keep the extended lead 7-0.

Just as she did in the fifth, Elza singled to lead off the sixth inning. She stole second and Campbell singled to give the Hawks runners on the corners. Phillips produced her third hit of the game to bring in her fourth RBI, then Lehosit made it one more with a fielder’s choice play to make the lead 9-0. Ally Jansen then chopped a groundball that was bobbled, giving UHS a 10-0 lead needing three outs to win the state title.

University’s Maddie Campbell (3) slides across home plate to score a run against Washington Patriot in the AAA championship game on Thursday in Charleston. (William Wotring/The Dominion Post)

After a leadoff single by Courtney Greenfield for Washington, Campbell produced two groundballs and a strikeout to end the game and give the Hawks their first state championship in program history.

“I was so happy to be able to get that last strikeout with Olivia,” Campbell said. “She has been catching for me since we were little and I couldn’t imagine a better way to win it.”

“It’s just so great to see the hard work pay off,” Parks said of her reaction to bringing UHS its first-ever state championship. “I’ve been working in the game of softball for so long and I’m so proud and honored.”

Masoner, Campbell and Weaver were named to the all-tournament team for UHS.

BOX SCORES
Game 1

Washington 6, University 3
WHS 311 001 0 – 6 15 1
UHS 000 003 0 – 3 7 0
Washington – Bibb 5220 Constantino 4121 Dean 2111 Greenfield 4131 Sedlock 4110 Cave 4031 Crowder 2000 Kesrerson 4021 Musser 4010
2B: Constantino (2), Dean, Cave
University – Elza 4110 Campbell 3010 Lehosit 3000 Phillips 3010 Masoner 3021 Jansen 3022 Weaver 3000 Royce 3000 Brown 3000
WP: Kesterson 7.0ip 7h 3r 0bb 0k
LP: Lehosit 0.1ip 3h 3r 0bb 0k

Game 2
University 10, Washington 0 F/6
UHS 002 053 – 10 10 1
WHS 000 000 – 0 6 5
University – Elza 4120 Campbell 4210 Masoner 4011 Phillips 4134 Lehosit 4113 Jansen 4000 Weaver 2011 Royce 3000 Brown 3110 
2B: Elza, Masoner
Washington – Bibb 3010 Constantino 3000 Dean 3020 Greenfield 3020 Sedlock 3000 Cave 3000 Crowder 3010 Kesterson 2000 Musser 2000
2B: Dean
WP: Campbell 6.0ip 6h 0r 0bb 2k
LP: Kesterson 4.2ip 7h 5r 2bb 1k