KEYSER - Officially the trophy was handed to the Lady Tornado and celebrated Saturday afternoon, but the seeds of this tournament championship were planted many years ago by Ron Mathias, his family, and his friends. The Keyser Lady Tornado enjoyed gorgeous weather this past weekend highlighted by defeating Grafton 11-3 in game one, Philip Barbour 11-0 in the quarterfinals, Frankfort 5-3 in the semifinals, and Lincoln 9-1 in the title game to successfully defend their Ron Mathias Tournament Championship.

KEYSER - The Keyser Lady Tornado enjoyed gorgeous weather this past weekend highlighted by defeating Grafton 11-3 in game one, Philip Barbour 11-0 in the quarterfinals, Frankfort 5-3 in the semifinals, and Lincoln 9-1 in the title game to successfully defend their Ron Mathias Tournament Championship. Officially the trophy was handed to the Lady Tornado and celebrated Saturday afternoon, but the seeds of this championship were planted many years ago by Ron Mathias, his family, and his friends.

Ron Mathias is credited with starting youth softball in Keyser and building the current softball field. According to Keyser Head Coach Craig Rotruck, “This is the 5th year of the Ron Mathias tournament and each year we try to make it as big and beautiful as possible in honor of his dedication to the softball program. Ron built the field using his own money, his own equipment, on his own time, while recruiting friends in the community to help physically and financially complete the project.” Rotruck continued, “Now that Ron has passed on, we have kept the tradition going while continuing to receive big help from his family. Thats why the name of the field is Ron Mathias and friends field. Ron wanted to make sure that everyone knew his friends helped build this, and it was for the community.”

The softball field has become Ron’s legacy and his daughter Ronna Mathias Monseau continues to honor the legacy donating her time, effort, and sponsorship through her business, Health Matters Urgent Care. “Ronna does an unbelievable job on the t-shirts, getting trophies, and organizing all these families together which includes setting up the hospitality room to provide food for all the kids and stuff, and she does a fantastic job.” said Rotruck. Not only does the tournament help honor the legacy of Ron Mathias, it provides an opportunity for the Keyser players to face different competition from schools like Lincoln.

The softball stadium in Keyser certainly draws the attention from other fans and players because of the overall environment including appearance, field maintenance, signage/sponsorship display, and lively music played between each inning and every Keyser player at bat. Assistant coach Richard Thompson commented, “The Mathias family works extremely hard to make sure the field looks pristine.”

The Lady Tornado softball team has been on fire this season and currently they have an impressive 15-3 overall record which perhaps has exceeded many preseason expectations. The winning record on the field is a direct result of the time and effort of the youth program and the community off the field.

Ronna, the daughter of Ron Mathias, talked about the tournament and the reaction from other teams, “People are impressed with the amount support our team receives. Every time we ask for help, these parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc. all step up. The hospitality room at our tournament was overflowing with home-cooked food. Our games are packed with fans. The coaches and dads keep this field pristine and it’s hard work. The middle school teams are overflowing with young talent.” Although this team is young, the players come in prepared to play varsity baseball because of the development of youth softball in Keyser. Assistant Coach Chris Shoemaker talked about player development, “Locally teams like Mountain Ridge, Allegany, and Northern have had great varsity softball teams because of their involvement with travel ball. Now we have girls from Keyser that are playing all summer long, perhaps 50 or 60 games, within organizations like the Frostburg Mountain Thunder. We have tried to create a culture of competing with these other schools and that is a year round process. I believe now and in the upcoming years you will see Keyser continue to improve and become better because of these players and the year round commitment.” To add to the conversation about youth softball, Coach Rotruck stated, “We really appreciate what the community does as far as the middle school league.

A big reason the Golden Tornado captured the championship trophy was the play of junior Aubrey Smith and senior Madi Anderson. Aubrey has been a force on the mound all season tossing a total of 81 innings while establishing an incredible low ERA of 2.33. Aubrey has been a threat at the plate posting a .571 batting average while coming through in the clutch, exemplified by her huge home run in the semi-finals to beat Frankfort.

Senior Madi Anderson had a weekend to remember on and off the field. On Friday afternoon Madi found out she was a finalist for the Katharine Church Award then she went out and crushed 3 home runs during the tournament which honors her grandfather, Ron Mathias.

Madi Anderson’s Aunt Ronna proudly posted on Facebook, “He (Ron) would certainly be ecstatic that his granddaughter, Madison Anderson was a hitting machine this weekend, but he would also be so proud of the community that surrounds this team.” Ron did have an opportunity to coach his other granddaughter Meghan, before being diagnosed with a brain tumor, and Meghan developed into a first team all-state pitcher while leading her team to the state playoffs and finishing in 3rd place. Ronna concluded her posting stating, “My dad is certainly smiling down on all of this! I’m sure when he donated so much time and money to build this field, he could only have dreamed that this would be the result. I can’t express enough gratitude to all of you who made this weekend awesome, and thanks for remembering my dad and his contributions to the community.”