MASON — Karley Clark rounded third base with an oversized grin and a mob of Fairfield High School softball teammates waiting for her at home plate.
The Indians’ junior is slugging at the right time.
Clark hit a two-run homer in the top of the fifth for added measure, pitcher Megan Spence handed Milford its first shutout since 2019 and Fairfield captured a 7-0 Division I regional semifinal victory on Wednesday at Mason.
“Oh, yeah. For sure. I knew it was gone. Amazing feeling,” Clark said of her eighth home run of the season, which gave the Indians a 6-0 lead.
That all but sealed Fairfield’s first trip to the regional finals since 2006, when it lost to Hamilton 2-0. The Indians face Lebanon on Friday at 5 p.m. at Mason with a trip to state on the line.
“We were on our toes the whole game waiting for them to unleash, too,” Fairfield coach Brenda Stieger said.
But the Indians (20-5) broke loose first after three scoreless innings.
Clark had an RBI single, Ryleigh Peters slugged a two-run double and Fairfield got another run off a Milford error to go up 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth.
“We just kept driving through. We were making contact,” Clark said. “It wasn’t like we were striking out. We were all seeing the ball.”
Fairfield collected seven hits against Milford freshman starter Meghan McClellan. Clark went 2 for 3 with three RBI and two runs, while Abby Stanfield had two hits and a run.
Spence, a sophomore, pitched a three-hit complete game with 12 strikeouts.
“It feels so good,” said Spence, who upped her record in the circle to 9-3. “Why not us? What can’t it be us? We’ve proved it. We’ve worked our butts off every time we come on the field, and we show it, too. Our bats are hot, too. So that helps.
“I knew I had to battle,” Spence added. “They’re a good team on the field and with the bats. I knew I had to work through it. My defense was great behind us.”
Isabella Zimmerman went 2 for 3 with two doubles for Milford, which ended its season at 22-5. Fairfield snapped Milford’s 11-game winning streak and extended its own to five.
The Eagles were last shutout in the postseason with a 3-0 loss to Oak Hills on May 16, 2016.
Clark said the Fairfield softball team’s chemistry hasn’t just been a recent thing.
“A lot of us played with each other since we were 7 years old,” she said. “Growing up together and knowing everybody personally — it’s not just on the softball field. That has helped us a ton.”
Fairfield and Milford faced each other during the preseason on March 23.
Stieger said both teams looked completely different since then from a positive perspective.
“Milford is a very good team,” Stieger. “We had a lot of respect for them. We didn’t know what we were up against. You don’t see them very much. We scrimmaged them at the beginning of the season when we didn’t know where we kind of were and have people settled in spots yet. We had a little bit of an idea. That’s the beginning of the season, and we’ve changed completely. Now so did they.”
LEBANON 4, MIAMISBURG 3
MASON — Teagan Ouhl hit a go-ahead, two-run homer to lead Lebanon to a Division I regional semifinal victory over Miamisburg on Wednesday.
The Warriors (28-3) have won 24 in a row and face Fairfield in the regional finals on Friday at 5 p.m. at Mason.
MIAMI EAST 4, CARLISLE 3
CENTERVILLE — Miami East got three runs in the top of the fifth to go up 4-2 and eventually held off previously unbeaten Carlisle in a Division III regional semifinal on Wednesday at Centerville.
Lone Carlisle senior Chyla Miller hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth to cut the deficit to a run, but the Indians couldn’t muster up anything after that.
Carlisle finished the season at 23-1.