Potomac State softball two wins away from World Series

Chapin Jewell
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Potomac State claimed the Region XX championship on Tuesday and will compete against Delaware Technical Community College this weekend in a best of three series for a bid to the NJCAA Division II world series.

KEYSER - In mid-March, the News-Tribune previewed the season for Potomac State softball, highlighting the many facility improvements that have been made, discussing the talented, experienced roster, as well as the quality coaching staff in place.

Head coach Craig Rotruck made the mission clear, “We want to compete for a conference championship. Coach Walton did it and four years in a row he went to the World Series. That’s our goal, win the conference tournament and hopefully advance to the World Series and keep it rolling.”

Fast forward two months and Rotruck and the Lady Catamounts are right where they need to be. Potomac State went 3-0 in the double elimination Region XX tournament, defeating Frederick Community College 9-1 in five innings on May 6. On May 8 and May 11 respectively, the Catamounts swept Hagerstown Community College 4-1 and 10-1 to claim the Region XX championship.

That’s given Potomac State a golden opportunity, a chance to host Region XIX champion Delaware Technical Community College in a best of three format this weekend in Keyser. Two games will be held Saturday at Potomac State, one beginning at 1 p.m. and another at 3 p.m. Should a third game be needed, it will also take place in Keyser at 12 p.m. on Sunday.

The winner in this battle of Region XX and Region XIX best of three format will advance to the NJCAA Division 2 World Series, held at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Alabama from May 25 to May 29.

“That’s one of our goals that we set up. We wanted to be the number one team in the conference so we could play a lot of home games, we got to do that. We wanted to win the Region XX conference, and we did that. Our goal is to advance to the World Series, no matter who is in our way,” Rotruck stated.

In year’s past, winning the Region XX tournament would have been automatic qualifier, but like with everything else, COVID has added an interesting twist to things.

“In the past, the winner of Region XX, which we just won on Tuesday, automatically goes to the World Series. This year, due to COVID and a lot of team’s not participating throughout the country, has made some of the regions a lot smaller. Instead of giving the Region XIX champion (Delaware Technical Community College) an automatic bid, they combined them with us,” Rotruck explained.

In Delaware Technical Community College, Rotruck knows Potomac State will have their hands full.

“Coming in, they are supposed to be very good. All of the research and scouting we’ve done, and people we’ve contacted, tell us that they have one of the top hitters in the country. They have a pitcher that averages pretty much a strikeout an inning. They really swing the bat very well from what I understand,” Rotruck explained.

According to Rotruck, “We’re going to have to play extremely well just to compete. But, like I told the girls, one thing that we’re going to do is show up Saturday. We’re going to play hard and we’re going to do what we need to do to try and get our ticket punched.

The team coming in from Delaware may be good, but so too is Potomac State. The Lady Catamounts concluded the regular season with a 20-7 record and with three straight wins in the Region XX tournament will enter play Saturday with a record of 23-7.

“Right now, I think we’re getting good pitching out of Taylor Townsend. She pitched all three games in the Region XX tournament and did a real good job. If we can minimize her walks and not get behind, I think our strong point on our team is our offense. If we can keep it close, we may have an opportunity to get a few balls hit into some gaps and get some people on, maybe get the ball in the air, and be able to compete with them,” Rotruck explained.

Although successful, it’s definitely been a crazy year due to COVID and the effect it has had on scheduling.

“I’ve been pretty pleased, especially with the effort of the girls, because we would maybe go a week without playing. Teams would call you up and cancel due to injuries or COVID restrictions or whatever it may be. Instead of getting set up for a three-game series on a weekend, it might turn into nothing,” Rotruck stated.

According to Rotruck, “Our girls have stayed very focused, and myself along with the other coaches have done a good job of keeping them focused, giving them time off, trying to keep them fresh. It’s been a very difficult year as far as scheduling and playing is concerned. I bet we’ve only had a couple of games cancelled because of weather, everything else has been cancelled because of COVID or injuries.”

Every goal set out for this year’s 2021 Potomac State Lady Catamounts’ softball squad thus far has been attained, there’s only one more that remains. The opportunity is now at hand, win the best of three series at home this weekend against the visitors from Delaware and that final goal, the punching of a World Series ticket, will be met as well. We’ll keep you posted.