PORTSMOUTH – With a 4-1 win over Waterford Saturday in a Division IV district final, the Notre Dame Titans earned a spot in next week’s Division IV regional tournament in Pickerington.
“It’s amazing this season how many different girls have stepped up in key situations,” said Notre Dame head coach J.D. McKenzie following the Titans win over Waterford. “I could literally name every player on our roster that has contributed in certain situations to get us a victory. Cassie again pitched great for us and put us in a place to win and her teammates backed her up with great defense and timely hitting. Everyone knew last season that Cassie was an elite pitcher. but this year she has just been so consistent and helped herself by drastically cutting down on her walks allowed.”
Schaefer was once again the star in the Titans win. Get used to hearing that often. The junior ace allowed just three hits, one earned run, and struck out thirteen Wildcat batters. As the Titans continue to push through their postseason run, McKenzie continues to be pleased with his junior ace’s performances on the mound.
“Having Cassie in the circle, like I have said all year, gives us a great chance of winning,” McKenzie said. “The big difference between last season and this is her consistency. She is working ahead in the count much more and has really limited her walks this season. She walked 47 batters last season and is yet to break double digits in walks this season. I think that speaks volume about the work she puts in off-season working on her command.”
At the plate for the Titans was sophomore Claire Dettwiller, and well, a host of other Titans. Dettwiller finished ¾ at the plate with an RBI, Taylor Schmidt finished ¾ with a run scored, and Madi Suter finished 2/4 with an RBI and a run scored. Schaefer and Chloi Hayslip also each drove in a run for Notre Dame despite not picking up a hit. In total, all nine Titans who stepped up to the plate either finished with a hit or earned an RBI.
“I really believe our girls are buying into what the coaches are telling them about not trying to do too much at the plate and look for a good pitch to hit that they can handle,” McKenzie said. “We have so many girls in our line up capable of clearing the fence, but we just have to adapt to the situation at hand and the girls are doing a great job of that.”
Saturday’s district title gives the Titans their third district title during the 2018-19 school year (volleyball, basketball). McKenzie knows how incredible that run is despite the size of Notre Dame being a Division IV program. But, it’s people like McKenzie and volleyball head coach Kelsey Glockner, as well as the Notre Dame players who have helped shaped the success the Titans are currently enjoying.
“I’ve been saying this for a long time, but it is truly unreal what these girls have accomplished over the course of the last decade,” McKenzie said. “I believe the culture of Notre Dame girls sports has forever been changed. The expectation bar has been set and these girls just keep responding and reestablishing the bar. Three district titles in one school year and five in the last two is crazy. I tell the girls all the time do not take this for granted and that this is not the norm at most schools, but we are ecstatic that it is at Notre Dame. The fan and alumni support we get for our games in such a small school is unbelievable and is a huge part of the girls success. We have such great coaches and coaching staffs at Notre Dame that put in a lot of hours and dedication to the girls. The girls are so coachable and only worry about team success and the parents are so supportive that it would be difficult to not be successful. Just this past week we had alumni players Hagen Schaefer and Brooke Pierron in to our practices and the same thing happens in basketball and volleyball as well, our graduates embrace the successes our current players are having now and it just shows you that it is a privilege and honor and to be able to wear the Blue and Gold. I frequently receive messages from past players congratulating the girls and expressing how proud they are of them and how proud they are that they are forevever a Lady Titan. I thank God every day for allowing me and my family to be a part of the Notre Dame family.”
Notre Dame will next fact the challenge of taking on Peebles in the Division IV regional tournament round in Pickerington. For McKenzie and his Titans, they’ll continue to push ahead, taking this run one game at a time for as long as it’ll last.
“Really, our mindest never changes. As cliché as it sounds it really is a one game at a time attitude. We prepare every game a little different to be ready for what the next team brings to the table. We have high expectations, but we understand our biggest goal is to play the next game with maximum effort and we can be at peace with the results.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved