The Braves look to beat another SWBL team after beating Valley View 12-0 in district final.
WEST CARROLLTON — Morgan Loveless has one of the best seats in the field.
The senior center fielder says she has a perfect view every game to watch Shawnee pitcher Emily McKillip in the circle. Loveless watches the interaction between McKillip and catcher Taylor Priest, waiting for Priest to relay the pitching sign.
Most of all, Loveless enjoys watching McKillip’s pitches — the rise or drop of the pitch, and the varying speed.
The view was spectacular for Loveless last Saturday in Shawnee’s district final game against Valley View. That’s because McKillip allowed one hit and struck out ten batters to help Shawnee earn a 12-0 victory.
Shawnee will play another Southwestern Buckeye League team on Wednesday in a regional semifinal. Franklin (18-7) beat Ross 2-1 on Saturday in a district final game to advance to play Shawnee.
McKillip frustrated Valley View’s hitters throughout the game. Several Spartans’ batters struggled to make contact. McKillip, who has a 1.03 ERA, hasn’t given up a run in the last 24 innings she’s pitched.
“She’s had an outstanding senior season,” Shawnee head coach Chris Roberts said of McKillip in an interview last week. “Her pitching has just been outstanding. She’s been great at the plate too.”
Loveless and McKillip — the only seniors on Shawnee’s roster — are trying to make their final games count.
They already have in a few ways. Shawnee broke a string of five-straight losses in sectional final games with a 2-0 win over Kenton Ridge last week and earned its first district title against Valley View.
“It’s definitely the greatest feeling ever,” Loveless said after Saturday’s win. “Knowing that you’ve worked all four years trying to get better and better and this being your senior year and getting so far is awesome. I have the greatest teammates behind me.”
Franklin has a team batting average of .342 and an on-base percentage of .395. The Wildcats are led at the plate by Patten Akers and Becca Henry, who have .397 batting averages. Akers has 22 RBIs this season and Henry has 20. Emily Temple (.392 batting average) leads the team with 27 RBIs.
Henry is Franklin’s starting pitcher. She has a 1.93 ERA and has struck out 70 batters in 105 innings this season. Henry limited Ross to five hits on Saturday and had one strike out.
Shawnee will try to repeat last Saturday’s hitting performance against another SWBL opponent. The Braves had 12 hits against Valley View and scored eight runs in the first inning to secure the game early.
McKillip leads Shawnee with a .531 batting average and with 37 RBIs. Freshman shortstop Aliya Saunders is second with a .476 average, and Karlee Sine has a .462 average. Morgan Loveless, Lauren Linn and Morgan Spitzer have batting averages above .400.
Shawnee has a team batting average of .419 and an on-base percentage of .459. The Braves have hit 69 doubles, nine triples and 16 home runs this season.
Saunders, who has scored 34 runs this year, says Shawnee will have to maintain its strong hitting against Franklin.
“We just have to keep our confidence and believe in ourselves like we did today,” Saunders said.
Saunders said Shawnee will focus on fielding well against Franklin. The Braves have committed 15 errors this season, while Franklin has committed 39. Shawnee hasn’t committed an error yet in postseason play.
Having a few more strikeouts added to McKillip’s 222 season total on Wednesday wouldn’t hurt the Braves, either.
“It’s good that we can rely on (McKillip) sometimes, but she can also rely on us (fielders), too, to get it done,” Saunders said. “She’s a great pitcher and I know that she can get the job done.”
Northwestern plays Jonathan Alder on Thursday at Mason in the region’s other semifinal game. The winners will play in a regional final on Saturday at Mason.
The Top Billing Sports Network is the best place for coverage of Shawnee and Northwestern in regional semifinals this week. We have the call of both Franklin vs. Shawnee and Alder vs. Northwestern this Wednesday and Thursday 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 4:45 p.m.