Ken Adkins has been very deliberate in how he’s constructed Independence’s schedule. Nitro, Winfield, St. Albans, Sissonville, Cabell Midland, Petersburg, Point Pleasant and Herbert Hoover have proven to be a gauntlet, but it’s what the Indy head coach wanted.
Adkins wanted the Lady Patriots to see the level of competition they’ll need to beat if they want to be state champions.
Now they’ll be put to the test.
“It’s the best schedule we’ve ever played,” Adkins said. “We’ve played the same teams before, they just weren’t all as good as they are this year. Our section and region is not what it has been in year’s past. There’s a big discrepancy between the top and the bottom. But all those teams we’ve played, we traditionally played them and they’re going to beat themselves up in that region.
“We’re going to get whoever comes out of there if we make it through here to the state tournament, but I’ve told our kids we really have to focus. We’ve gotten better since the beginning and I’m sure Shady and Wyoming East have and will be ready when we see them.”
The Lady Patriots come into the Class AA Region 3, Section 2 tournament as the top seed, but it won’t be a cakewalk. While they’ve blown out sectional foes Nicholas County and Liberty, their one game against Shady Spring, the No. 2 seed, was a 4-0 decision in favor of Indy.
In that contest Shady elected not to pitch all-stater and Penn State commit Paige Maynard.
But Adkins and Co. like their chances given the gauntlet they’ve faced. They also have their own star power.
Indy all-stater Kaylen Parks is tied for the state lead in home runs with 11 while sophomore pitcher Delaney Buckland has fanned 249 batters in 147 innings of work.
Shady comes into the sectional tournament with a 22-2 record, its only losses to Indy and Class AAA Greenbrier East. Maynard’s a huge reason why with 199 strikeouts in 103 innings of work but Shady’s bats have been active as well.
Leading the charge on that front is junior Olivia Barnett. She brings a .652 batting average and eight home runs into the postseason, having driven in 49 runs this year.
Nicholas County, the No. 3 seed, comes into the sectional tournament at 9-10 with its only sectional wins against Liberty.
Liberty, the No. 4 seed, is 0-5 against sectional opponents, having lost every game its played against sectional foes by at least 10 runs.
“You always have concerns going in,” Adkins said. “We’re young. We’ve had days where we come out flat. But what I’ve talked to them about 1,000 times is little things change games. Whether it’s a bad call, or a bad jump, all of that matters.
“We have to focus on all those little things and I’ve said this my whole life – if you take care of your business, you’re winning the game. If we do that we’ll be good, if not we’ll get ourselves in trouble because I don’t expect our games with Shady to be high-scoring with two dominant pitchers in the circle.”
Region 3, Section 2
All games start at 5:30 p.m. at the higher seed’s venue.
Tuesday, June 1
Game 1: No. 4 Liberty at No. 1 Independence
Game 2: No. 3 Nicholas County at No. 2 Shady Spring
Wednesday, June 2
Game 3: Game 1 winner (Liberty/Indy) vs. Game 2 winner (Nicholas/Shady)
Game 4: Game 1 loser (Indy/Liberty) vs. Game 2 loser (Nicholas/Shady)
Thursday, June 3
Game 5: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 winner
Friday, June 4
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner
Saturday, June 5 (1 p.m. start)
Game 7: If necessary