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‘Great year’ for Ridge coach will include wedding

Equipped with all the latest Bluetooth, hands-free gadgets, Sarah Ivory runs a daily press room operation out of her car.

The manic multitasker is usually in motion at the time, whizzing from Point A to Point B, and curious friends or relatives may or may not be riding along.

“I’m sorry … I’m calling from my car again,” she’ll say with a chuckle.

Ivory has a good excuse, though. The Kenton Ridge High School softball coach has been juggling the logistics of today’s state tournament game with preparations for her upcoming wedding.

“Thank goodness for my aunt and my mom, who go over all of this (wedding) stuff,” Ivory said, laughing. “It’s been exciting to have all this coming up (at the same time). What a great year.”

Asked whether she’s more nervous about the big game or the big nuptials, friends and family in the passenger seats erupt in a chorus of giggles.

“I think I’m more nervous about the wedding — about just making sure everything’s OK,” Ivory said. “Thank goodness I’ve got friends and family to help me.

“They think I’m funny,” she added. “They actually laugh at me all the time, because they’ll ask me questions about what I want or don’t want, and I’m like, ‘Doesn’t matter. Whatever.’ “

Ivory’s most immediate task? Getting her third-ranked Cougars (30-2) ready to go for today’s 5:30 p.m., D-II state semifinal against sixth-ranked Granville (24-6).

They departed for Akron’s Firestone Stadium at 10 this morning on a chartered bus.

“I’m just excited to get there and absorb everything,” Ivory said.

Once Kenton Ridge returns home, Ivory will exchange vows with fiance Kevin Schalnat on June 15 at Wittenberg University’s Weaver Chapel. Then, it’s off to Hawaii.

“I’ll be honest,” Ivory said. “I did look up the date of the state-final games, but only because when I was in high school, I had to move my graduation party because of going to state.”

Ivory carries a unique perspective into today’s game, having traveled to state as a KR player, assistant, and head coach.

“Sarah is as sweet a girl as you’ll ever meet, but she’s a disciplinarian,” said longtime assistant Emil Leach. “When you step on the field, you know who’s boss.”

The Cougars are making their sixth Final Four trip. They advanced to the semifinals in 1997 and 1998, and to the finals in 1999, 2002 and 2003.

Ivory, a 1998 grad, played for Hall of Famer Ed Foulk on two of those squads.

“Probably the biggest thing I learned from him is how to get the kids motivated to do the things they need to do,” Ivory said. “As both a player and a coach, I never really saw him get nervous.”

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