PORTSMOUTH — It’s a bittersweet week.
While we’re certainly looking forward to taking in softball tournament action, it also means that each loss now ends a season. With that being said, we’re hoping our local teams don’t experience a loss until some time to come.
We’re not naive enough to think that every local team will make it out of sectional play but we can root for that, right?
As postseason play commences, take a look at this week’s jam-packed edition of Extra Bases.
A. Two key games on both sides of the spectrum still have yet to be played thanks to weather issues. Oak Hill travels to Wheelersburg Monday evening as the Pirates try and put an exclamation point on a perfect league season while Clay and Green still need to meet to determine an SOC I baseball winner. See, this week also features great regular season action. In Wheelersburg and Oak Hill’s first meeting, the Pirates beat the Oaks by a 6-3 final after earning an early 4-2 lead after an inning. We all know what happened in the Panthers’ 1-0, 10-inning win over Green back on April 24. Both games should be fun to watch.
B. The Southeast District Athletic Board released its sectional and district baseball draws on Sunday and both Minford and Wheelersburg received top seeds. If all goes well, the Falcons and Pirates could possibly be seeing each other one more time at the regional level. However, I love the fact that they stayed away from playing in a district final. In the top half of the bracket, if seeds play out, Minford would have to bypass No. 2 Fairland and No. 3 Lynchburg-Clay to win a district title while Wheelersburg would have to get by No. 2 Westfall and No. 3 Rock Hill to do the same. I like the chances of both happening, assuming that both play to their abilities.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Clay freshman Preslee Lutz on coming into this season nervous to play at the varsity level:
“Coming into the year I was nervous to play with the upperclassmen, but they made me feel like part of the Panther family. They helped me understand the high school aspect of softball better and have helped me stay more positive with myself. This season has been great and I wouldn’t trade this team for anything. We play as a team and have fun doing it.”
Wheelersburg senior Jalen Miller on the Pirates’ postseason ceiling:
“I think the ceiling for this team is the sky. We have a lot of guys who come in and put work in everyday. Last year, we weren’t too happy with how our season ended. I think we can do a lot here. I think we can win a state championship if everybody buys in and does their job.”
Minford junior Brittani Wolfenbarker on the Falcons’ off-field bond:
“Our team this year is definitely one of the closest ones I’ve been a part of. We all have a great bond with one another and that’s definitely the key in any team sport. Coach [Art] Doll and our coaching staff has done very well with us and continue to push us each day. We play with heart each and every game and I’ve never been more proud of how well we’ve competed this year.”
Valley’s Tanner Cunningham held Zane Trace at bay in a non-conference affair this Saturday, throwing six innings, allowing one run on four hits and striking out five. The Indians will need Cunningham to perform similarly during the tournament if a long postseason run is to happen.
In a 14-1 win over Fairview (Ky.) Monday, Green’s Kasey Kimbler was 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and four RBIs. The next night, teammate Rachael Cline went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double, two runs and five RBIs … quite the power surge for the two Bobcats.
To nobody’s surprise, Notre Dame’s Cassie Schaefer had another good week in the circle, throwing a perfect game against conference rival Western. Schaefer threw five innings, didn’t allow a hit or a walk and struck out 12.
In a 6-4 win over Northwest Tuesday, Waverly’s Hannah Robinson threw two innings in the circle and finished 2-for-4 at the plate with a homer and three RBIs. The Tigers will certainly count on her production during their tournament run.
With tournament action starting, there’s a handful of softball games we’re looking forward to.
That list starts with West traveling to Zane Trace in a Division III sectional semifinal Tuesday evening. That same day, Northwest hosts Adena and Minford hosts North Adams in tournament action. On Thursday, Clay hosts the winner of New Boston and Paint Valley in a sectional final while Notre Dame starts its tournament run against either East or Whiteoak.
Then, on Friday, Wheelersburg hosts either South Point or Meigs in a sectional final while Minford or North Adams takes on Zane Trace or West with a sectional crown on the line.
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AREA TOP FIVE
1. Minford (20-1), 2. Wheelersburg (17-4), 3. Clay (18-3), 4. Green (18-2), 5. Waverly (16-6)
1. Wheelersburg (18-2), T2. Notre Dame (21-2), T2. Clay (19-2), 4. Waverly (16-5), 5. Minford (14-8)
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