CHILLICOTHE — Shutouts and Senator softball are becoming synonymous with one another come postseason time.
For the second straight season, the West Lady Senators are Division III district champions — earning a 2-0 victory over Ironton in Sunday’s district final at Unioto High School.
It’s the program’s sixth shutout victory in their last eight postseason games dating back to the start of the ‘22 postseason.
And most importantly, now 26-3 West will continue its season in the Region 11 tournament this week.
“It’s a huge accomplishment. We set out after the season last year and said this is one thing we wanted to do, get back to the regional tournament and be the last one standing,” West coach Dani Coleman said, after the game. “They’ve worked really hard, overcome a lot and have made each other better along the way.”
“It’s really exciting because we work constantly and we know it’s really hard getting here,” senior Kylie Osborne said, of winning the program’s second straight district title. “More comfortable playing here in this environment after our run last year.”
It took a furious relay from sophomore left fielder Erica Whisman to sophomore catcher Ava Potters to keep the Fighting Tigers (16-8) off the scoreboard.
A single by Ironton’s Gracie Brammer in the top of the third nearly drove in Katelyn Williams from second base, but Whisman’s relay to Potters at home beat the sliding Williams in a bang-bang call by the home plate umpire.
Thanks to this defensive play, the score remained scoreless through the first two-and-a-half frames.
“I knew that if it hit the ground in the outfield, she was going home,” Whisman said. “I just knew where I needed to throw the ball, had to get it in quick.”
“Erica (Whisman) has come full circle so far in becoming a good player,” Coleman said. “She’s really quick, has a good arm. You could see that she was really on-point. Ava (Potters) did a good job of focusing on the ball and not letting that play get to big for her.”
West took the momentum from the close play at the plate to their next series of at-bats in the bottom of the third.
The first four Lady Senator batters reached in the fourth, including junior Emma Sayre who singled in sophomore Brooklyn Pitts, and sophomore Myla Mead who drove in senior Kylie Osborne with an RBI-double.
“We were making enough contact, just not enough to make something happen. We decided to change up our approach at the plate to try and put some pressure on their defense, it worked out to advantage,” Coleman said. “The girls really executed in that inning and it worked out for us.”
Those runs proved enough scoring for West to survive and advance in a tight contest with Ironton.
Senior pitcher Sydney McDermott allowed just two hits and two walks in her victory in the circle, striking out 10 Ironton batters in the contest.
“Erica’s stepped up this year. I know my whole defense has my back all the time. Watching her being able to save us, save myself, from giving up a run,” McDermott said. “Was so excited for her and us to get that momentum and keep rolling.”
“I think she’s at 965 strikeouts now, maybe more. Her focus each game is one pitch at a time. We study our opponents and try to pick up some of their tendencies, Sydney and our catcher, our whole team do that studying so that we’re on the same page and have the same goals.”
West will face a familiar opponent in their Region 11 semifinal on Wednesday — Southern Ohio Conference Division II opponent South Webster.
The Lady Senators earned 6-2 and 13-10 victories over the Lady Jeeps during the regular season, as Wednesday’s meeting at 2 p.m. at Unioto between the two will be played with each side’s tournament life on the line.
The winner between West and South Webster will face the winner of Wheelersburg-Meadowbrook in the Region 11 Final on Friday (May 26th) at 5 p.m. at Unioto.
“Super exciting,” Coleman said. “We know that everything from here on out is going to be a battle — we just have to get back to the grind.”
Ironton 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
Portsmouth West 002 000 X — 2 6 1
W: Sydney McDermott (PW) 7IP, 2H, 0ER, 2BB, 10K; L: B. Wallace 6IP, 6H, 2ER, 1BB, 2K
Portsmouth West batting
Emma Sayre 2-3, RBI
Myla Mead 1-3, RBI
Emily Moore 1-3
Brooklyn Pitts 1-2, R
Kylie Osborne 1-3, R
Gracie Brammer 1-2, BB
Emily Weber 1-3
Bella Sorbilli 0-2, BB
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved