It was an early statement that said simply … there will be no upset today.
The Madison High School softball team, already a two-time winner over Carlisle this season, ripped off eight runs in the bottom of the first inning Monday and cruised to a 12-4 victory in a Division III Dayton district semifinal at Lefferson Park.
“We were coming hard,” said freshman first baseman Taylor Johnson, who was 4-for-4 with two RBIs for the top-seeded Mohawks (20-6). “All we wanted was to beat them again. Our whole lineup, from top to bottom, we hit.”
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Madison swept its Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division rival by a 37-13 margin this spring. The Mohawks also beat the Indians in last year’s tournament after losing twice to Carlisle during the regular season.
“I kept reminding the girls of that,” Madison coach Dean Howard said. “They understood. Not only being sectional champions or whatever you want to call it, but it’s Carlisle again. Nothing against Carlisle, but the rivalry’s there. You don’t have to talk ’em up much for that.”
The Mohawks sent 12 batters to the plate in the first inning against Haylee Hook, getting a two-run triple from Ally King and a two-run single from Johnson.
Madison will travel to Eaton on Friday to face West Liberty-Salem (20-2) for a district championship at 5 p.m.
“One step at a time, one game at a time. That’s what we always talk about,” said Howard, in his first year at the Mohawks helm after the death of head coach Doug Pemberton last June. “I feel good about this team. We can still improve, but we’re heading in the right direction.”
Asked what she feels this team can do in the tournament, Johnson replied, “What can’t we do, honestly? That’s how we look at it.”
Sabrina Dolph went the distance in the circle for Madison and allowed 13 hits. Carlisle was down 12-1 and on the verge of getting run-ruled in the fifth inning, yet refused to go quietly.
The fifth-seeded Indians (11-8) stranded at least one runner every inning and nine overall.
“I’m always nervous,” Howard said. “They don’t lay down, and I don’t expect them to lay down. One big hit and it’s a different ballgame.”
Bailey Naylor connected for a solo homer and was 2-for-3 for Carlisle. Sierra Bolen had two doubles, a single and an RBI, Caitlyn Stewart contributed two hits and two RBIs, and Bailey Allen added three hits.
“I still don’t feel like we hit the ball like we could,” Indians coach Tom Shelton said. “We weren’t as patient at the plate as they were. Some of our girls are just a little overanxious and tried to do too much at times. But some of them are young.”
The first inning was a disaster for Carlisle, though the Indians only had one official error during that frame.
“We needed a good start, and it wasn’t good at all,” Shelton said. “I don’t know if (Hook) was missing her spots. They’re a really good hitting team, and we had some plays that you really can’t call errors, but those plays have got to be made.
“At least we didn’t get spanked in five innings. We stayed with it and fought, and I told the girls I respected them for that.”
Jenna O’Hair, Jackie Kovscek and King all had two hits and two RBIs for the Mohawks. Kenzi Saunders, Samantha Bennett, Lilly Dennis and Dolph all drove in runs, and Kovscek and Dennis had triples.
Madison turned three 5-3 (Saunders to Johnson) double plays.
“We’ve got to get better to beat them,” said Shelton, who is losing two seniors — shortstop Sierra Orth and second baseman Allen. “We’ve got a lot coming back and I’ve got a really good class coming up next year, so I think we’re going to be right back in the mix next year.”
Carlisle began the postseason by defeating Preble Shawnee 7-1 for Shelton’s 100th career victory. He’s now 100-68 in seven years as the CHS head man.
WP — Sabrina Dolph (15-4); LP — Haylee Hook (10-6); HR — C: Bailey Naylor. Records: C 11-8, M 20-6