Braves score six runs in second, beat Franklin 10-0 to earn regional final berth.
MASON — Emily McKillip was at it again.
Shawnee’s senior pitcher struck out 13 batters and gave up one hit to help lift the Braves to a 10-0 win over Franklin in a Div. II regional semifinal game. McKillip batted in three runs in the second on a fly ball to center field that Franklin couldn’t field. The runs gave Shawnee a 5-0 lead and helped them solidify the lead.
“Emily’s just a stud,” junior second baseman Morgan Spitzer said of McKillip after the game. “No one can hit off of her. It’s pretty easy to play defense behind her. She’s really working hard. Her arm was hurting her, and she was fighting through it. She’s fighting through it; she’s awesome.”
Shawnee (26-3) will advance to play either Northwestern or Jonathan Alder in a regional final game on Saturday at noon at Mason. The Warriors play Alder in a regional semifinal game today at 5 p.m. at Mason. Northwestern beat Shawnee 5-4 in a CBC crossover game on May 1.
“We have to have the bats (on Saturday),” Spitzer said. “We have to have our bats and keep our bats out. We have to play good defense behind Emily. We can’t rely on her all the time, so everybody has to be on their game and be hitting. We just have to keep up the momentum that we have now.”
Shawnee had its bats against Franklin. The Braves scored six runs in the second to run away from Franklin. Shawnee capitalized on three Franklin errors in the second inning to take the lead for good.
“It was a really good win,” Shawnee head coach Chris Roberts said. “Franklin, I think, came out really well prepared. Their pitcher threw the ball really well. I think we made a good adjustment in the second inning. They made a couple of miscues, and I think that helped us get a little momentum. We started hitting the ball really hard after that. Emily again pitched a stellar game.”
Franklin had two hits against McKillip. The Wildcats drove up the pitch count in several plate appearances against McKillip, who threw four walks in the game. But no Franklin base runner advanced past second base.
McKillip gave up three walks and both hits in the first three innings. She then struck out Franklin’s next seven batters. Franklin didn’t reach base again until a walk in the sixth.
“I think it’s that unknown factor,” Roberts said. “We knew absolutely nothing about Franklin coming in, other than what’s posted on the Southwest Buckeye League site, and those are just stats that don’t tell you anything about their girls. So often times it takes a trip through the lineup to get a feel for how we want to work the batters and things like that.”
McKillip (25-3) hasn’t allowed a run in her last 30 innings in the circle and hasn’t allowed a run in the tournament. Bellefontaine was the last team to score on McKillip in a league game on May 7.
“Emily’s throwing great,” third baseman Karlee Sine said of McKillip. “It’s great. Emily is just great. It’s so awesome just to see her being great.”
Sine and Aliya Saunders went 3-for-4 for Shawnee with one RBI each. Saunders hit a double in the fourth inning and scored two runs in the game.
Spitzer went 2-for-3 in the game and had two RBIs. Morgan Loveless and Lauren Linn went 2-for-4 for Shawnee. Linn hit a triple in the fourth.
Shawnee had 13 hits in the game. The Braves have earned run-rule wins in three of their four tournament games.
“We’ve been taking care of offense,” Spitzer said. “We’ve got really good momentum right now. I’m just hoping we can keep it to keep going further in the tournament.”
Spitzer hit a single in the sixth that allowed Saunders to score from second base. The run gave Shawnee a 10-0 lead. The Braves held Franklin scoreless in the bottom of the inning to earn the run-rule victory.
“She did a great job,” Roberts said of Spitzer. “Especially that tenth run, that was a big one. We wanted to get the run rule, because obviously you want to save pitching anytime you can. So when she stepped up with two outs and got that hit, it was big.”
Sine started the second inning with a single to center field. Grace Miller walked next, and Spitzer then reached base on a fielding error. Kristie Dalton reached on an error by Franklin’s center fielder next, and Sine scored from third for the game’s first run.
Loveless hit a single to short stop two batters later and scored Miller from third. McKillip then reached on an error two batters later, which gave Shawnee a 5-0 lead.
Franklin finished the season 18-12.
If Northwestern beats Alder on Thursday, the Braves and Warriors would face each other in a regional final on Saturday.
“Whoever makes it into the finals, we’d be more than thrilled to play them,” Roberts said. “Honestly, I would like to see Northwestern get there, because it’s a big plus for our conference. It would be something to see two Central Buckeye Conference teams in the regional finals. I think it says a lot about the quality of our conference.”