Shawnee pitcher Emily McKillip hasn’t allowed a run in her last 30 innings, while Alder pitcher Mady Watson struck out 7 against Northwestern.
MASON — The Shawnee Braves were frantic. The team’s bus driver got lost on the drive to Mason from Springfield as the slated first pitch time drew near.
But the Braves found Mason’s stadium 30 minutes before first pitch and got on the field in time, albeit with little warm up time.
“We literally warmed up in like 30 minutes,” junior second baseman Morgan Spitzer said. “But we’re pretty good at that. We don’t need a lot of warm up time.”
Shawnee sure didn’t need much warm up time in the Division II regional semifinal game against Franklin. The Braves beat Franklin 10-0 to advance to the team’s first regional final.
It will be a day of firsts tomorrow at Mason High School when Shawnee and Alder play for a Division II regional title. Neither school has ever advanced so far in the tournament. One team will advance even farther — to the state tournament.
“It’s awesome,” Spitzer said. “We didn’t expect it. It’s awesome.”
The Braves (26-3) have won five straight games since losing to Bellefontaine in a league game on May 7. The loss cost Shawnee a share of the CBC Kenton Trail title.
Alder (26-1) beat Northwestern 6-2 on Thursday to advance. The Pioneers’ win shattered hopes for a regional final game between two Clark County teams and CBC foes. Northwestern beat Shawnee 5-4 on May 1.
Alder scored four runs in the second inning to break a 1-0 Northwestern lead and never looked back against the Warriors. The Pioneers totaled nine hits in the game, three of which came in the second. Pitcher Mady Watson gave up three hits in the game and struck out seven Northwestern batters.
“This is our first (regional final) ever,” Alder head coach Dave McGrew said after the Northwestern game. “This is the first time we’ve ever even been to the district final. It’s awesome. We’ve progressed these last three years that I’ve been here. We’ve got a great team, we’ve got a great pipeline right now. Our program’s been on the uptick.”
Shawnee head coach Chris Roberts is in his second season at Shawnee. The Braves had a streak of five-straight, season-ending losses in sectional final games before beating Kenton Ridge in a sectional final last week.
Emily McKillip has led Shawnee in the circle. The senior ace has a 1.00 ERA and has thrown 235 strikeouts this season in 168 innings. She hasn’t given up run since the loss to Bellefontaine and is scoreless in her last 30 innings. She struck out 13 batters in Shawnee’s win over Franklin.
McKillip also leads Shawnee at the plate. She has a .530 batting average and 40 RBIs this season. She has hit 17 doubles this season, the most of any Shawnee player.
Aliya Saunders, who went 3-for-4 against Franklin, has a .486 batting average and has batted in 31 runs. Karlee Sine has a .474 batting average, and Morgan Loveless has a .452 average. Lauren Linn (.425) and Morgan Spitzer (.415) also have averages above .400.
All six players, including two other batters in Shawnee’s lineup on Wednesday, have an on-base percentage above. 400.
“They’re a good team, a very good team,” McGrew said. “They have a really good pitcher in the circle. I came and scouted them myself yesterday. They have a solid infield and a very good outfield. They’re good all the way around. It starts in the circle, and they’ve got one of the best.
“We’ve already got our game plan and what we’re going to work on (on Friday) to train for that. We’ll prepare our girls the best we can and we’ll come out and let the pieces play.”
Spitzer said she thinks Shawnee is able to win and advance to its first state semifinal game.
“We have to have our bats,” 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. Everybody has to be on their game and everybody has to keep hitting. We just have to keep our momentum going… we have really good momentum right now. I’m just hoping we can keep it to keep going further in the tournament.”
The Top Billing Sports Network has the call of Shawnee vs. Alder on Saturday on our online streaming radio station. Fans at Mason can listen on 106.7 FM, while anyone can listen anywhere around the world on our online streaming radio station. Our newly revamped stream can be heard on any computer, smartphone, or tablet with internet access.
Coverage begins each night at 11:40 a.m.