ROSS TWP. — Based on recent encounters, almost nobody expected Friday’s Division II sectional softball game between neighborhood prep rivals Ross and Badin to end with one Rams team run-ruling the other.
Even some Ross fans, with their Rams leading 7-0, were concerned.
“Seven runs isn’t enough,” one observed.
» PHOTOS: Nick Graham’s 32-image gallery from Ross
The “almost nobody” didn’t included the Ross team. Those Rams weren’t surprised when they tacked on three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to complete a 10-0 win and advance to the district semifinals.
Junior third baseman Emily Poling scored the clinching run on senior shortstop Kaitlyn Justice’s sacrifice fly that followed sophomore second baseman Ashley Shelton’s bases-loaded, two-run double.
“This was expected,” Ross coach Pat Spurlock said. “We’ve been playing well. We’ve been focused and playing really hard.”
Shelton went 4-for-4 with a double — setting the program’s single-season record for two-base hits with 18, Spurlock said — and three runs batted in to lead the Ross attack, which wasn’t impacted by the game being postponed from Thursday by threatening weather that never materialized, allowing both teams to practice. Badin actually was on site at Ross on Thursday when the decision was made to postpone the game.
“We were all energized,” said Shelton, who also had two stolen bases. “We had a lot of energy and everybody was cheering for everybody else. We were more hyped up. Our pitching was phenomenal.”
Sophomore right-hander Madison Minges also finished with two hits, logging as many offensively as she allowed on the mound. Minges walked one and struck out three in five innings to improve to 5-3 this season. The Ross defense played errorless ball and just one Badin runner reached third base — on a wild pitch in the fifth.
“She’s been getting better with every appearance,” Spurlock said of his No. 2 starter behind freshman Samantha Iannarino. “She’s been working hard.”
Fourth-seeded Ross (19-8), which was coming off a 17-4 win over Wyoming that snapped a three-game losing streak, is scheduled to play top-seeded Clinton-Massie on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Kings. The Falcons advanced with a 10-0 win over 11th-seeded Northwest.
No. 5 seed Badin (14-13) had edged Ross 6-5 in a walkoff win on April 6 after losing 4-3 in 10 innings in a 2018 district tournament semifinal, but coach Greg Stitzel knew going into Friday’s game that his Rams were at a disadvantage, even though they’d walloped Indian Hill 14-0 in the first round to snap a two-game losing streak.
Stitzel’s main concern was sophomore right-hander Emma Kent, who was nursing a sore quad that limited her repertoire. She hadn’t pitched since April 29 and was seen trying to work it out in the circle during warmups late in Friday’s game.
“That’s the way it goes,” Stitzel said. “She hadn’t thrown in almost two weeks. She had two pitches she couldn’t throw.”
Injuries also cost Stitzel veterans at center field, shortstop and catcher this season. Freshmen comprised his double-play combination with a sophomore at first base.
“People come, people go,” Stitzel said. “We’re happy that we finished over .500. We were run-ruled at Fenwick on Monday. Give Ross credit. They did a nice job. They hit nice.”
The postponement didn’t play a role in Badin’s performance, Stitzel said.
“They told me they felt ready,” he said of his girls. “We just didn’t hit.”
WP — Madison Minges (5-3); LP — Emma Kent (11-12). Records: B 14-13, R 19-8
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