A dynasty in the making? KMS softball does a three-peat

Chapin Jewell
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
The Keyser Middle School softball team celebrates their championship victory over Braddock, a three-peat for the program.

KEYSER - It seems like a dynasty may be in the making at Keyser Middle School.

For the third straight time in three chances, Keyser has three-peated as the Middle School Softball League champions, topping Braddock 8-2 in dominating fashion at Lions Field in Lavale on Thursday.

Keyser won the championship in 2018, 2019, there was no season in 2020, and now 2021.

Team Manager Cody Spotts was asked after the game if it felt like a dynasty was brewing.

“It certainly feels like it,” Spotts responded. “These girls come out and they compete every single year. They practice their butts off and want to get better every single day. Honestly, it’s just that we are blessed with amazing talent.”

Keyser's Rylee Mangold was dominant in the circle and at the plate in the championship victory.

Spotts was asked how the 2021 version of Middle School softball compares to past seasons.

“This year was actually a little bit different. In past years, we’ve been very, very loaded, almost from top to bottom. A lot of those girls are in high school now. We do have quite the talent here, and it really helps that we have the best pitcher and catcher in the area this year,” Spotts explained.

There’s no shortage of available talent looking to next year, so there is no reason Keyser can’t continue the dominance into the future.

According to Spotts, “Our sixth graders at the top of the order and in the four spot, they contributed big, everyone from top to bottom. This is a very young team. They will lose five girls, but we certainly will have talent for next year as well.”

The crowd assembled Thursday evening at Lions Field clearly displayed their loyalty - one side was adorned in the Black and Gold and the other in Royal Blue and White, the school colors for the respective high schools that Keyser and Braddock feed into. In fact, the setting in every way was identical to the scene at Lions Field last week when Keyser and Allegany met to do battle, with Allegany topping Keyser 3-2 in a comeback thriller.

On this day, however, while the location and color schemes of those assembled were the same, the outcome would be very different. This time, the Black and Gold team would come out on top 8-2, thanks in large part to the dominating pitching in the circle of Keyser’s Rylee Mangold.

Mangold was spectacular, going the full seven innings, striking out 16, walking three, giving up two runs on only three hits.  Those runs didn’t come until the bottom of the seventh inning with Keyser already holding a commanding 8-0 lead.

“That’s how she is every week, every day, she’s out there competing. She wants to get better. She has that competitive edge like you want to see a pro player have. She works, she works, and then works some more. She gets frustrated if something goes wrong, but other than that, I have nothing but great things to say about her, she is unreal,” Spotts explained.

Savannah Alt pitched admirably for Braddock as well.  Alt also went the full seven innings, striking out 10, walking seven, giving up eight runs on five hits.

Offensively for Keyser, Rylee Mangold led the way with two doubled, Riley Felton also doubled, and Tayler Likens, Abby Del Signore and Aubrey Fisher singled for the Black and Gold. Fielding errors by Braddock assisted in getting some runners on base for Keyser.

Keyser got on the board first when Riley Felton crossed the plate from third, stealing home on a passed ball for the 1-0 lead. In the third inning, Tayler Likens reached first base on an error but was able to bring Brielle Root and Rylee Mangold home. Root had reached base on an error while Mangold had reached on a double. At the end of three, Keyser held a 3-0 advantage.

In the top of the fourth inning, the floodgates opened as Keyser tacked on an additional three runs to take a 6-0 lead. Brielle Root walked to get on base. Mangold then doubled to score Root. Tayler Likens then walked. Riley Felton then doubled to bring Mangold and Likens home for the 6-0 lead.

In the top of the sixth inning, Abby Del Signore walked to get on base. Three batters later, Aubrey Fisher singled to score Del Signore. Three batters after that, Mangold walked with the based loaded to score Del Signore to bring Keyser to their final tally of eight runs.

Braddock would respond with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the damage was done as Keyser earned the 8-2 victory.

Keyser’s impressive offensive performance was on par with how they’ve performed all season.

“Offensively this year it’s been different. We’ve had in the past Alexa Shoemaker, the Del Signore twins, a lot of talent. But, we’ve never put together a complete season like this where we’ve scored at least eight runs every single game,” Spotts explained.

According to Spotts, “Eight might not seem like much, but we’ve hit all year. What’s different is that in the past we would have maybe one or two bad hitting games, this year we didn’t have any.”

The success of the Keyser feeder program has helped fuel the success of Keyser High’s softball program.  That team, in advance of the Ron Mathias Memorial Tournament this weekend currently stands with a record of 21-2. For Spotts, all the credit for the success goes to the girls.

“I’m not one to take much credit because it truly is the girls, there are so many that would stay after practice for an hour, wanting to get better. It’s a true testament to the girls. It’s a true testament to wanting to get better. It’s all about the girls and I’m just here for the ride.”