Jeeps mercy Rebels, win sectional


SW blanks SG 10-0 in 5 innings

By Paul Boggs - [email protected]



South Webster senior Rylee McGraw delivers a pitch to a South Gallia batter during Wednesday’s Division IV softball sectional championship game.

South Webster senior Rylee McGraw delivers a pitch to a South Gallia batter during Wednesday’s Division IV softball sectional championship game.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

South Webster’s Riley Raynard rounds third base and scores a run in the Jeeps’ Division IV softball sectional championship game against South Gallia on Wednesday.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

The South Webster Jeeps captured their third consecutive Division IV softball sectional championship on Wednesday, winning over visiting South Gallia 10-0 in five innings.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

SOUTH WEBSTER — Rylee McGraw was dealing, Bri Claxon was hitting and running, and the South Webster Jeeps — in pretty much one fell swoop in an hour and 20 minutes— quickly put down the South Gallia rebellion on Wednesday.

That’s because the Jeeps, in a Division IV softball sectional championship tilt in Jeep Country, captured their third consecutive sectional title —blanking and mercy-ruling the visiting Rebels 10-0 on a day in which temperatures topped out in the mid-80s.

South Webster scored nine earned runs off SGHS senior pitcher Jessie Rutt, registering its only unearned run in the fourth — when Riley Raynard reached on the second of two Rebel errors.

The Jeeps just needed a single counter in their opening at-bat, when the standout senior shortstop Claxon —who went a perfect 4-for-4 and was a home run shy of the cycle —tripled hard to left-centerfield, and scored on Skylar Zimmerman’s RBI-groundout.

After only four Jeeps went to the plate against Rutt in the second, South Webster scored three times apiece in each of the final three innings —as the contest was called following the fifth frame with the 10-run mercy rule.

The sixth-seeded Jeeps — winners of sectional titles in 2019, 2021 and now 2022 under Andy Messer — raised their record to 15-8 —and more importantly advanced to Wednesday’s (May 18) Division IV district tournament at the University of Rio Grande.

The Jeeps will play third-seeded Belpre in a semifinal, as the Golden Eagles avoided a major upset bid by the 14th-seeded Eastern Eagles —prevailing 3-2 in another sectional final.

Belpre and South Gallia are in the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division, and South Webster and Eastern are in the predominant Division III Southern Ohio Conference Division II, where Eastern almost pulled the stunner —and came oh so close to facing the Jeeps for a third meeting.

But South Webster — whose five of its eight losses are to the Division III’s top three seeds of No. 1 Wheelersburg, No. 2 West and No. 3 Wellston —was geared up for 11th-seeded South Gallia, and it showed.

In fact, the Jeeps only lost to Wheelersburg 6-5 in nine innings and 3-1 in that return bout, twice to West by two runs apiece (4-2 and 2-0), and only by five runs (7-2) at Wellston.

“Our SOC II and non-league schedule prepares us for this. It might not look good on paper for our record, but we look at it as absolutely helping us prepare for the postseason,” said the SWHS skipper Messer. “We could play a lot easier schedule, but we stack our non-conference games up too, and play tough teams because we want to be better.”

The Jeeps were clearly better than the Rebels on Wednesday —which only amounted one official basehit off the senior hurler McGraw.

And, that was a skyward pop-up with two outs in the fourth inning —when the five-foot and 10-inch tall McGraw made a fantastic diving attempt at making the catch, but it bounced in and out of her glove by mere inches.

Laila Hurlow had that hit, as Dafney Clary in the first and Sydni Hornsby in the fifth reached on the Jeeps’ two errors —and Rutt reached on a 6-4 first-inning fielder’s choice.

But McGraw’s first of seven strikeouts, and Claxon’s second and only other defensive assist, ended those respective Rebel yells.

McGraw faced the Rebel lineup two times through, striking out the side in the second as part of four consecutive strikeouts —and retired the Rebels 1-2-3 in innings two and five.

She didn’t allow a walk, or even hit a batter either, en route to the circle win.

Messer said McGraw has found her groove, after a recent no-hitter and shutout efforts in the past two weeks.

“Rylee threw the ball really well, and has been throwing the ball really well. She is really right where we want her to be for the tournament,” said the coach. “Proud of her in that way.”

Her fellow Jeeps indeed aided her at the plate, churning out 15 hits with seven of those going for at least two bases.

In the third, Claxon led off with an infield single and Zimmerman doubled her home, while Ava Messer doubled to left to cross Ashley Spence —who reached on a bloop single to right center.

In between, Bella Claxon scored Zimmerman on a well-hit sacrifice fly.

In the fourth, McGraw led off with a double to center —and made it 5-0 by scoring when Raynard reached on the aforementioned error.

Bri Claxon clubbed her second triple on the next at-bat and plated Raynard, and then crossed with two outs on an infield single by Lauren Kaltenbach.

In the fifth —following singles to left by Makayla Raynard and McGraw, Riley Raynard driving both of them in with a double and finally Claxon ripping a two-bagger —Zimmerman made it 10-0 with a single that scored Riley Raynard.

Coach Messer said the leadoff Lady Jeep Claxon sets the tone —and batters two thru nine simply follow suit.

“Whenever you have all nine in the lineup hitting, that’s good and makes for a good day. We want the bottom part of our lineup hitting the ball just as much as we do the top,” he said. “Bri hit the ball really hard and really well. Stayed on top of everything. When she gets on base, it sets the pace for the rest of our lineup. It’s almost like she automatically scores when she gets on base. She makes things happen with her legs, and the rest of the team follows up with hits, playing small ball, just takes care of getting her in. But it’s important for her to get on base, which makes us offensively more dangerous.”

In addition to the Jeeps’ pitching and defensive efforts.

“We played both sides of the ball. We hit the ball well, had good pitching from the circle, played good defense. When you have all three of those aspects, you hopefully win,” said Messer. “That’s what happened tonight and I’m proud of the girls for their performance.”

And now, the next tournament performance is against Belpre —on Wednesday at around 6 p.m. at the University of Rio Grande.

“I’ve done a little research on them, and they have a pretty good pitcher who as of last week had hit 14 home runs already this year. It doesn’t matter who you play, when you have hit that many over the fence, they are going to be a good team,” said Messer. “I expect Belpre to be exactly to their record and it be a tough ballgame.”

* * *

South Gallia 000 00 — 0 1 2

South Webster 103 33 —10 15 2

SGHS: Jessie Rutt 5IP, 10R, 9ER, 15H, 0HB, 0BB, 3K, 29BF

SWHS: Rylee McGraw 5IP, 0R, 0ER, 1H, 0HB, 0BB, 7K, 18BF

W — Rylee McGraw ; L — Jessie Rutt

South Webster senior Rylee McGraw delivers a pitch to a South Gallia batter during Wednesday’s Division IV softball sectional championship game.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_SG-at-SW-SB-McGraw-.jpgSouth Webster senior Rylee McGraw delivers a pitch to a South Gallia batter during Wednesday’s Division IV softball sectional championship game. Paul Boggs | Daily Times

South Webster’s Riley Raynard rounds third base and scores a run in the Jeeps’ Division IV softball sectional championship game against South Gallia on Wednesday.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_SG-at-SW-SB-Raynard-.jpgSouth Webster’s Riley Raynard rounds third base and scores a run in the Jeeps’ Division IV softball sectional championship game against South Gallia on Wednesday. Paul Boggs | Daily Times

The South Webster Jeeps captured their third consecutive Division IV softball sectional championship on Wednesday, winning over visiting South Gallia 10-0 in five innings.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_South-Webster-sectional-champs-.jpgThe South Webster Jeeps captured their third consecutive Division IV softball sectional championship on Wednesday, winning over visiting South Gallia 10-0 in five innings. Paul Boggs | Daily Times
SW blanks SG 10-0 in 5 innings

By Paul Boggs

[email protected]

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved