Clay defeated Symmes Valley 1-0 Saturday afternoon in Minford to win a Division IV District Championship, its third consecutive.
"(Symmes Valley) had beaten us twice (in the regular season)," Clay coach Teresa Ruby said. "There's always incentive going into a tournament game but we had added incentive."
The win sets Clay on a collision course with SOC I champion Green. The teams will meet for the third time Thursday at 5 p.m. at Pickerington Central High School. Green also defeated Clay twice during the regular season.
"One thing that we've said the past three years is, 'We play for the end,'" Ruby said. "The league is the icing on the cake. We really will take it or leave it to be honest. We're playing for the end and we want to be better at the end. That's what we've been fortunate enough to do."
On Saturday, the Lady Panthers were fortunate enough to score the game's lone run when Tori Osborne doubled to score Keely Craft in the first inning.
A half inning earlier, Symmes Valley managed to load the bases with two outs, but was unable to score.
The Lady Vikings had four hits the rest of the way.
"Well you got to hit to win," Symmes Valley coach Odie Estep said. "That's the main thing. We had an opportunity in the first inning to score some runs but couldn't get a timely hit there. It's tough to beat a quality team three times in a season."
After the first inning, it was all defense. Clay's Cami groves earned the shutout-win from the circle, picking up 11 strikeouts along the way.
Estep said Symmes Valley ended its season at 19-7. He also spoke highly of his team's four seniors; Hailey Pelletier, Libby Ash, Julie Carter and Jennifer Smith.
"Our seniors meant a bunch to our program," he said. "They had a bunch of wins out of our program and they've worked hard for four years. They've been a big part of of our program."
As for Clay, long-time rival Green poses many challenges. Still, the Lady Panthers have plenty of experience, having made the state final four in 2007.
"I kept telling the girls 'you've been here before and you know what it's like,'" Ruby said. "We've got five seniors so we have some good, solid leadership.”
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at email@example.com
Symmes Valley 000 000 0 — 0 51
Clay 100 000 x — 1 4 2
WP: Groves LP: Ash
Symmes Valley — Corn 2-4.
Clay — Osborne 1-3 2B RBI.
Records — Symmes Valley 19-7; Clay 16-5