Madison High School softball coach Doug Pemberton wiped his eyebrows, trying to take in both the win and the ice bath that chilled his back.
After losing twice to third-seeded Carlisle during the regular season, Pemberton and his No. 2 Mohawks won when it mattered most, earning a 3-1 victory Monday in a Division III sectional final at Fenwick.
“It’s great,” Pemberton said before his soaking. “We can play with them, we just struggled a little bit. We’re clicking right now.”
»RELATED: High School results for May 15
»RELATED: State softball coaches poll
»PHOTOS: Greg Lynch’s gallery from the game
But Metcalf’s start was far from perfect. After Carlisle leadoff hitter Sierra Orth singled to center, she scored later in the inning when Metcalf threw a wild pitch over catcher Jackie Kovscek’s glove.
Once she settled down, though, Metcalf had a commanding presence that kept Carlisle hitless until the seventh inning, when Bailey Naylor doubled to center. While Indian batters got on base, via either errors, a walk and one hit batter, they never got past second base.
Metcalf, who entered the game with 225 strikes this season, finished with eight.
“It’s the best feeling in this world,” Pemberton said about watching Metcalf dominate, especially as a freshman. “When I took this job, I didn’t know she was coming. I didn’t know anything about her, didn’t know what I had. What’s nice is she’s humble, she knows her place, she doesn’t push anything, and she listens. Anything I ask her to do, she does.”
»RELATED: Badin rallies to beat Brookville
»RELATED: Springboro stuns Lakota East
With Metcalf on a roll and keeping the one-run deficit manageable, the Mohawks were able to take control of the game offensively too.
Loading the bases with no outs in the fourth inning, Kovscek singled through the infield, scoring Metcalf and Taylor Phelps.
In the next inning, luck added another run. Leadoff hitter Jenna O’Hair advanced to first when Carlisle first baseman Jenna Jewell dropped a force out. Then Ally King bunted into a fielder’s choice, but O’Hair advanced to third. When Jewell overthrew third baseman Cassidy Whaley, O’Hair went home for the game’s final run.
The two errors weren’t exclusive, however. A poor throw to first in the fourth inning got Phelps on base before Kovscek hit her in. Afterward, Carlisle coach Tom Shelton said his team kicked the ball around.
“She came today and shut us down,” Shelton said of Metcalf. “They deserved to win the game today. We didn’t hit her.”
Madison will travel to Eaton on Friday for a 5 p.m. district final against Springfield Northwestern.
“Our goal’s state,” Pemberton said. “I preached this to these girls when I got hired on. They’re buying on slowly but surely. We still believe we can. That was a huge monkey off our back.”
Carlisle’s season ended at 17-6, with four seniors playing their final game Monday.
Afterward, Shelton voiced his frustration not in losing, but having to play Madison for a third time.
“I hated the fact you gotta play somebody three times in a season,” Shelton said. “They need to do something to our section, either expand it, make it bigger. They’re a good team, we beat them two times this year, I just don’t like playing someone a third time.”
WP — Carly Metcalf (20-6); LP — Ashley Brown (15-4). Records: M 22-7, C 17-6