They say you only go as far as your pitching takes you. Sure, you need some timely hitting and solid defense, but the key to winning softball games comes down to whom you have in the circle.
Felicity and Clermont Northeastern have held true to that adage as they are led by two of the best hurlers in the city and as a result, both teams found themselves in sectional final matchups on Tuesday evening.
Led by senior pitcher Montana Wear, second-seeded Felicity has won their two games by a combined 19-0. The Lady Cardinals smoked their first-round opponent, Mariemont, 16-0 before getting some timely hitting as solid-as-always pitching from Wear in their second-round victory over Fayetteville, 3-0.
The Lady Cardinals were scheduled to play their sectional final game on Tuesday, May 15 against Reading at Indian Hill.
As for CNE, led by pitcher Emily Anderson, the Lady Rockets haven’t had anywhere near the close calls that the Lady Cardinals have had.
Anderson has been unconscious in the first two rounds of the sectional tournament. In the Lady Rockets’ first-round beating of Roger Bacon (19-0) and second-round thrashing of Purcell Marian (10-0), Anderson has struck out an amazing 28 batters. The incredible thing about that number is that both games have only lasted five innings each because of the Ohio High School Athletic Association 10-run rule, meaning Anderson’s strikeouts account for 28 of the 30 recorded outs in those two games.
“CNE is the real deal,” Williamsburg head coach Rick Healey said last week. “(Coach) Goldfuss has done a really good job with those girls and their pitching is excellent.”
The Lady Rockets were scheduled to play their sectional final game on Tuesday, May 15 against Cincinnati Christian at Mason High School.
The only other team to make it to a sectional final was Glen Este in Division I. The Fort Ancient Valley Conference East Division regular season champions advanced past second-round opponent Mount Notre Dame 12-0 before falling to Fairfield 5-1 on Monday, May 14.
The Lady Trojans finished the season 17-8.
Perhaps the most bizarre storyline of the postseason occurred in the middle of last week in the Division III sectional. Williamsburg, the No. 6 seed, took a 9-7 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning over fifth-seeded Cincinnati Christian when the game was called due to lightning in the area.
The Lady Wildcats were three outs away from victory, but would have to wait another day to seal the deal. Instead of driving the hour and a half to get three outs, the Lady Wildcats gave up three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to lose 10-9.
“Some days you’re the bug and some days you’re the windshield,” Healey said. “Today, it just so happened that we were the bug, but give credit to Cincinnati Christian. They didn’t come out with their heads down, they never gave up and played well.”
Elsewhere around Clermont County, teams enjoyed modest success before getting knocked out of the tournament.
In Division I, the Amelia Lady Barons defeated Seton 4-2 in the first round before falling to Turpin, 2-1 to end their season.
Similarly, Milford took Western Hills to the cleaners in the first round, run-ruling the Lady Mustangs 18-0, before falling to eventual sectional champion Fairfield, 5-1, in the second round.
In Division II, Batavia, Bethel-Tate and New Richmond were bounced in the second round.
Batavia defeated SBC rival Goshen in the first round, 9-1, before losing to top-seeded Wilmington 2-1 in the second round. Bethel and New Richmond, on the other hand, both received first-round byes, but were unable to get by Western Brown (11-1) or Talawanda (15-2), respectively.
Clermont County’s hopes for a state title contender lie squarely on the shoulders of Felicity and CNE, although if it were to happen, the teams would meet a little further down the road.
If the teams continue to win, they would face off in the regional finals on May 26 at Wright Sate.