MINFORD — Two SOC I teams advanced to the Division IV Southeast District Championship game with wins in their respective district semifinal games Tuesday, in Minford.
Clay defeated Waterford, 5-1, to punch its ticket to the district final and Symmes Valley knocked off Valley, 5-2, to advance to the district final.
The district final will be played at 1:00 p.m. Saturday in Minford and will be the third match-up between the Lady Panthers and the Lady Vikings this season. The first two contests went the way of Symmes Valley.
“The SOC I has been represented well here at the district the last several years by excellent teams,” Symmes Valley coach Odie Estep said. “Our kids have a lot of confidence against Clay. They have a fine ball club, it will be a dog fight from start to end.”
In the first semifinal, top seeded Clay dispatched the fifth seeded Waterford Lady Cats.
The victory takes the Lady Panthers to 15-5 on the year and earns them their third straight trip to the district title game. Last season Clay advanced to the regional tournament. In 2007, the Lady Panthers advanced to the state semifinals.
The loss ends Waterford’s season at 12-11.
Clay wasted no time getting out in front of the Lady Cats. In the first inning Keely Craft led off the inning with a single and Dani Summers followed suit. Both were plated when a ground ball of the bat of Holly Hempill jumped away from the shortstop and rolled into left field.
That would be enough of a cushion for Clay’s senior pitcher Cami Groves. Groves went all seven innings giving up one unearned run on five hits while walking nobody and retiring 13 batters on strikes.
In the third inning Clay mounted a two-out rally. Groves doubled and Tori Osborne brought Groves in with a single to put Clay up 3-0.
“We weren’t exactly on fire, “ Clay coach Teresa Ruby said. “We had some timely hitting. Both teams were struggling in the field. Cami pitched an excellent ball game today. We were lucky to get that first one out of the way.”
Waterford scored in the top half of the fourth inning. Anna Marie Welch singled, advance to second on a fielder’s choice, and took third base on a wild pitch. With Welch sitting on third Megan Negri’s ground ball hopped away from the shortstop to bring Welch in.
Clay extended it’s lead in the home half of the sixth when Hempill doubled in Osborne and Groves’ courtesy runner Shyla Moore.
“When you were in the situation we were it helps to have a lead,” Hempill said. “Expanding that lead makes you a little more comfortable when you go back in the field. It helps.”
Groves retired 10 of the last 12 batters she faced and did not allow a hit since the fourth inning.
In the nightcap, the second seeded Lady Vikings of Symmes Valley eliminated the Lady Indians of Valley.
Libby Ash took the win for Symmes Valley. Ash went the whole seven innings allowing two runs, one earned on three hits.
Braiden Dillow took the loss giving up five runs, three earned on five hits.
Valley struck first in the top half of the second inning. Ashley Mills scampered home fromthird on a ball that got away from the Symmes Valley catcher.
Symmes Valley took the lead in the home half of the second scoring a pair of runs. Kayla Ross scored Chelsea wall on a groundout. Jessi Morris scored a wild pitch to put Symmes Valley ahead 2-1.
Valley evened the game at two, when Dillow helped her own cause doubling in Lauren Dunn in the third inning.
Symmes Valley took the lead for good in the fifth inning. Julie Carter drove in Morris to give the Lady Vikings a one run lead. Ash then helped her won cause knocking Brooke Skinner to put Symmes Valley up 4-2. Carter scored on an error and put the Lady Vikings 5-2.
Ash sat down nine of the last 10 batters she faced en route to the victory.
“I know this could’ve have been my last game and I didn’t want it to be,” Ash said. “It just made me work even harder because I don’t want this season to be over yet. I want to keep going.”
BRET BEVENS can be reached at (740)-353-3101 ext. 242
Waterford 000 100 0 — 1 3 3
Clay 201 002 X — 5 5 2
WP: Groves; LP: Lawler
Hitting Leaders —
Waterford — Wallace 2-3.
Clay —Hempill 1-2 2B 2RBi, Osborne 2-3 RBI R.
Record — Waterford 12-11; Clay 15-5
Valley 011 000 0 — 2 2 3
Symmes Valley 020 300 X — 5 5 1
WP: Ash; LP: Dillow
Hitting Leaders —
Valley — Mills 1-1 R, Dillow 1-3 RBI.
Symmes Valley — Wall 1-3 R, Morris 2-3 2R, Skinner 1-1 R, Cater 1-3 2B RBI, Ash 0-2 RBI.
Record — Valley 14-8 ; Symmes Valley 18-6