PORTSMOUTH — If your favorite stretch of any high school sports season isn’t tournament time, I’m not sure you could ever convince me of a rational reason why.
Saturday, the Southeast District announced sectional and district softball pairings, giving area teams a first look at their first round matchups. The baseball draw comes next week.
To say that we’re excited to cover tournament games would be an understatement. We’ve got seven days until we can do just that.
With one week left before tournament play begins, take a look at this week’s edition of Extra Bases.
A. I still believe I may have never seen a better baseball game than I did this past Wednesday evening at Clay. You know the score, a 1-0 win in 10 innings for the Panthers, and you probably know the story. But Green’s Tanner Kimbler and Clay’s Dakota Dodds went at each other for nine innings before Kimbler was pulled, producing a classic pitcher’s dual. I’m a fan of that and, if you’re a baseball fan, you’ll want to make sure to see the second meeting between the two. It’s a shame anybody had to lose that game.
Wheelersburg’s softball program has now won six straight SOC II softball titles. That’s not a typo, just a ridiculous fact considering how good the league is. The scary part? This year’s version of Teresa Ruby’s Pirates is a fairly young one. Boo Sturgill, Rylie Hughes and Sydney Spence certainly lead that charge but not to worry, Wheelersburg has plenty of talent left in the bank after the graduation of its departing seniors. The question before all of that happens is how far this team can go. With the way they’ve been playing — they beat their opponents by a combined 46 runs this past week — the Pirates could be looking at another trip to Akron.
Softball tournament seeds were released Sunday afternoon and I like a lot of our area’s teams’ chances to win, at least, sectional titles. By my count, six teams have a great shot at doing so and when I say a “great” shot, I mean they should go into their sectional final matchups as the favorite to advance.
This, of course, isn’t counting any baseball teams in the area. When you eventually add those in, It makes you sit back and think about the talent level that’s actually in Scioto County. Spring sports can be be forgotten about sometimes simply due to the shortened length of the season.
But if you’ve forgotten about our area’s teams currently ranked in state polls, battling each other on a nightly basis, habitually piecing together career performances and then topping those, you’re missing out. Check out a ballgame this week. It does the heart good.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Clay baseball coach Marc Cottle after Wednesday’s 10-inning 1-0 win over Green:
“That was one of the more nerve-wracking games I’ve ever been a part of. But I really feel like we had some players step up. Our defense was there to back up Dakota. That’s a great baseball game.”
Northwest senior catcher Laiken Rice on her Mohawks’ recent string of success:
“Our success is mostly credited to our ability to adapt. We got a new coaching staff this year and we love Coach West, but change is something we accept well. We are all there for the same reason and we all have the same goal to be successful.”
Valley softball coach Monty Spriggs on getting his program back to where it once was:
“We want to get back to the fundamentals. We’ve had some former players come in and say, ‘These are the things you need to do in the summers and the offseason.’ Coming from them, I think they understand it a lot better, that this is an eight-month program and it takes a lot of work to build the kind of program we’ve had here in the past.”
In Clay’s 1-0 win over Green, junior lefty Dakota Dodds threw 10 inning of scoreless baseball while striking out 11 Bobcats. Huge game in a huge spot for an experienced pitcher who, by all means, is one of the best hurlers Scioto County has to offer.
Let’s not soon forget Clay’s 2-1 win over Notre Dame on the softball diamond this past Monday. The win moved the Panthers into a first place tie with the Titans in the SOC I and Jensen Warnock certainly led that charge, going 2-for-2 with a run and a game-winning RBI. Also credit freshman Preslee Lutz for tossing seven innings, allowing one run and whiffing seven.
In three wins this week, 21-0, 19-0 and 7-1, Wheelersburg’s Boo Sturgill was … well … Boo Sturgill. The sophomore was 4-for-8 at the dish with three doubles, six runs and four RBIs.
On Monday, non-league battles take center stage as Jackson visits Wheelersburg, Green travels to Oak Hill and Valley takes on Washington Court House at VA Memorial Stadium on the baseball diamond. Tuesday, Symmes Valley goes to Clay for a meaningful SOC I softball contest while Adena baseball travels to Wheelersburg for the Pirates’ second big test in two days.
The rest of the week is scattered with non-league games, that is, until Green and Clay’s baseball programs compete in the second of their two-game series on Saturday which, obviously, we should all be excited for.
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AREA TOP FIVE
1. Minford (19-1), 2. Wheelersburg (13-4), 3. Clay (16-2), 4. Green (17-2), 5. Waverly (15-6)
1. Wheelersburg (16-2), 2. Notre Dame (17-2), 3. Clay (17-2), 4. Waverly (15-4), 5. Minford (13-8)
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