Ally Staten has played the outfield, spent some time at shortstop and even pitched a few innings during her four seasons playing varsity softball at Richlands High School.
She’s also filled another important role for the Blue Tornado.
“We call her our team mom,” said Richlands junior pitcher Mac Osborne. “She keeps us calm and excited to win. She is a leader and she tries to keep us upbeat in the dugout and on the field. She leads by example out there on the field.”
As the only senior on the Richlands roster, Staten will play her final game for the Blues (21-5) at some point this week and she hopes that doesn’t occur on Thursday against Page County (22-5) in a VHSL Class 2 state semifinal at Radford University.
It is a rematch of last year’s state title game in which Page County prevailed 3-0 on the strength of a shutout by pitcher Sabrina Foltz, who is back this year and is the Region 2B player of the year.
“We didn’t hit very well at all last year against them and that’s what we’re focusing on most this year,” Staten said.
Staten can swing the bat as evidenced by her .373 batting average and 15 RBIs.
“She is a good hitter who attacks the ball,” said Richlands coach Ronnie Davis.
However, she’s really made her mark by patrolling the outfield with impressive range.
“She has made many remarkable plays in the outfield to help us win games,” Davis said.
Staten can recall a time when victories didn’t occur as commonly as they do now for the Blue Tornado.
Richlands won just seven games during her freshman season and didn’t come close to the state semifinals.
“My freshman year was scary,” Staten said. “I didn’t really know everyone on the team, because I’ve always played with the girls that have been with me the last three years. Being a freshman, you try to put yourself out there and show people what you can do. Even if you make a mistake, you really don’t have anything to lose. I was busy working to earn a spot on the field and to be a freshman, Coach Davis let me out on the field more than I thought I would.”
She admits she learned plenty of lessons that spring, ones she has passed down to her younger teammates.
“Having all younger teammates, it kind of makes me feel wiser,” Staten said. “I encourage all of my teammates and help them out when they’re doing things the wrong way. The freshmen look up to me the most and I always encourage them to do things they’ve never done before. Sometimes they are afraid to do the unthinkable, but I remind them to never let fear control what they know how to do.”
Staten began playing with her current crop of teammates on the travel-ball circuit when she was 8-years-old. Katlynn Baldwin (.467), Osborne (.461), Chloe Newberry (.434), Ginger Short (.419) and Lauren Earls (.382) are part of that core group, while Osborne has pitched to the tune of a 1.46 ERA and has racked up 287 strikeouts.
“The thing that has impressed me with this group is their drive to win, work ethic and their ability to overcome adversity,” Davis said.
They have plenty of motivation having finished as state runner-up in 2017 and 2018 and they are used to competing on the state’s biggest stage.
“We might see it as high-pressure situations or big games,” Davis said. “This group of girls just sees it as another opportunity to get on the field and play the game they love.”
Staten would love to win two more games and get that state championship, no matter what it takes.
“We’re all determined to win this time,” Staten said. “Each one of us is willing to break our legs, maybe an arm, just to win this. We want this more than anything.”
Spoken like the true team mom.
“Ally will sacrifice anything for her team,” said Richlands catcher Jaden Stevenson. “She’ll put everything on the line to win a game and do her best.”