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Lehosit leads University to regional championship over Morgantown with strong start, 3-run double

May 14—Hawks reach state tournament for 1st time in 30 years MORGANTOWN—For the first time in 30 years, the University High School softball team is going to the state tournament.

Sophomore Sophia Lehosit tossed four strong innings and had the biggest hit in the game as the Hawks defeated cross-town rival Morgantown 5-1 in game two of the Class AAA Region I Championship Series Tuesday night on Lynch Field.

UHS (22-8) won the best-of-three series 2-0, winning a come-from-behind thriller on Monday, to advance to its first state tournament since 1994.

"We've worked for this, we've worked for this moment, " UHS coach Mindy Parks said. "It's really paid off."

The Hawks started fast on Tuesday with seven straight batters reaching base in the bottom of the first. Lexi Elza singled before Adalyn Brown reached on an error and Maddie Campbell was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs.

Freshman catcher Josalyn Phillips, who has had a stellar playoff run since coming in as an injury replacement, dropped a single into left field to put UHS up 1-0.

Next was Lehosit, who turned an inside pitch around into the left-center gap for a three-run, bases-clearing double.

"I was trying to go up there with confidence and just get on base or get a hit to the outfield, " Lehosit said. "Just get them to score in any way. Really I was just trying to put it in play.

"I just turned on an inside pitch and got it."

Lehosit came in to score on a ground out by Kalsey Park giving UHS a 5-0 lead.

"That was huge, " Parks said. "We rattled them quick, laid down some small ball and made them make some mistakes. We jumped on them quick and I think that was important for our team."

Lehosit's double chased Morgantown's (20-9) starter from the game without recording an out. Breakout sophomore Maddie Wisman came on in relief and gave the Mohigans exactly what they needed, getting out of the first without any more damage.

Wisman went on to pitch six scoreless innings as University didn't even get a runner in scoring position again until the bottom of the sixth.

"I felt like we stopped (the rally), they hadn't scored since the first inning, " MHS coach Lorri Lipscomb said. "But we weren't getting the defensive breaks and we weren't getting breaks on offense. We were making good contact, but they were making plays on the ball."

While Wisman was setting UHS hitters down, Lehosit was doing the same to Morgantown. In four innings of work, Lehosit allowed just one run on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

Emily Peterson's rocketing double to the centerfield wall in the top of the third scored Grace Robinson as the Mohigan's only offense on the night.

Lehosit said the team's early lead relaxed her nerves and the Hawks' sharp defense gave her confidence in the circle. Ashlynn Weaver made three impressive stops at third base, including a throw from her knees in the second, Elza chased down a pair of deep flyballs in left field and Lehosit herself helped turn a double play in the fifth.

"It really settles me down a lot because sometimes I get nervous in there, " Lehosit said of pitching with a lead. "I also have a lot more confidence when I know my outfield and infield can have my back. I know that I can throw the ball and if they hit it, we can get outs."

When Morgantown got back to the top of its lineup for the third time, Parks replaced Lehosit in the circle with Campbell, a common strategy to take advantage of their different pitching styles.

"Sophia has a very unique spin on her ball and she definitely kept them off balance, " Parks said. "Maddie throws a little bit harder and came in and closed out the game and that worked out in our favor."

Campbell threw the final three scoreless innings, striking out three and not allowing a Mohigan to even get to second base. Lehosit and Campbell combined to allow just one run on four hits while striking out five.

"That's a really good hitting team, " Parks said. "To hold them to one run, I'm really proud of the girls for that."

Lehosit finished 3 for 3 at the plate with two singles and the three-run double. Elza and Phillips had the team's other two hits while Park and Phillips had the other two RBI.

Wisman allowed just two hits across six scoreless innings with four walks and a pair of punchouts. She started a double play in the fifth and had one of the team's four hits while Peterson had the RBI double.

"You've got to bring your A game and we just weren't getting breaks and that first inning hurt us, " Lipscomb said. "These last two games, I can say we didn't play our best games. If you want to win to go to states, you've got to play your best games back-to-back. You can't have a bad day."

Lipscomb knows what it takes to make it to the state tournament. She was an assistant coach for UHS when the Hawks made it in 1994.

"It doesn't feel good being on this side of it, " she joked. "I wish it went our way, but obviously, we wish them luck."

"It feels really good knowing it's the first time in 30 years, " said Lehosit, who was born well after that 1994 season. "I'm really proud of every single person on this team."

The two-day state tournament will begin next Wednesday, May 22, at Little Creek Park in South Charleston.

BOX SCORE University 5, Morgantown 1 MHS 001 000 0—1 4 2 UHS 500 000 x—5 5 1 MORGANTOWN (20-9)—A. Robinson 2 0 1 0 ; Peterson 3 0 1 1 ; Wisman 4 0 1 0 ; Wilson 3 0 0 0 ; Alsop 2 0 0 0 ; Larimer 2 0 1 0 ; B. Robinson 2 0 0 0 ; Smith 2 0 0 0 ; G. Robinson 2 1 0 0. Totals 22 1 4 1.

UNIVERSITY (22-9)—Elza 4 1 1 0 ; Brown 1 1 0 0 ; Campbell 2 1 0 0 ; Phillips 3 1 1 1 ; Lehosit 3 1 3 3 ; Jansen 2 0 0 0 ; Weaver 1 0 0 0 ; Royce 3 0 0 0 ; Park 2 0 0 1. Totals 21 5 5 5.

2B: MHS (Peterson). UHS (Lehosit).

WP: Lehosit 4ip, 1r, 2h, 2bb, 2k LP: Wilson 0ip ; 5r, 3h, 0bb, 0k