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Shawnee drills Franklin, surges into regional final

The Shawnee High School softball team took another emphatic step toward Akron on Wednesday.

Emily McKillip fired a two-hitter with 13 strikeouts and the Braves buried Franklin 10-0 in a Division II regional semifinal at Mason, leaving Shawnee just one win away from its first state tournament berth.

“I think we can make it. I think we can go,” said McKillip, a senior right-hander who fanned seven batters in a row at one point and got 13-hit offensive support.

Aliya Saunders and Karlee Sine were both 3-for-4 with an RBI for the Braves (26-3), while Morgan Spitzer collected two hits and plated two runs.

Shawnee will return to Mason for the regional final Saturday at noon. The Braves will meet either Central Buckeye Conference rival Northwestern or Plain City Jonathan Alder — those teams square off today.

Shawnee coach Chris Roberts laughed when asked if he’d rather play Northwestern again. His squad lost their first meeting 5-4 on May 1.

“I’ve been asked that question before,” Roberts said. “Whoever makes it to the finals, we’ll be more than thrilled to play them. Honestly, I would like to see Northwestern get there because I think it’s a big plus for our conference.”

The Braves cruised past Franklin (18-8) after erupting for six unearned runs in the top of the second inning.

They smacked four hits off Becca Henry in the inning, but the Wildcats also contributed three errors, twice dropping balls in the outfield when players collided.

Roberts said Shawnee roared offensively after the first inning by becoming more selective at the plate.

“We chased some pitches in that first inning,” Roberts said. “That may be a little bit of nerves, a little bit of anxiousness. She threw a good ball. She was working us off the plate a lot, so we were waiting for her to bring the ball in a little bit.”

Morgan Loveless and Lauren Linn both notched two hits, and Loveless and McKillip had RBIs. Spitzer’s run-scoring single in the top of the sixth made it 10-0, and McKillip finished off the run-rule affair in the bottom of the frame.

“Everything was working. It was a good outing,” said McKillip, who issued four walks and gave up two singles, both to Emily Temple. “We expected to hit well because we’ve been hitting well all season. We just lived up to our expectations.”

Franklin stranded five runners in the first three innings.

“She’s a good pitcher. I won’t take anything away from her,” Wildcats coach Jim Miller said. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance because we were behind in the count every at-bat I would assume. We swung at her rise ball, and then she throws a drop curve. That’s what good pitchers do. They get you to swing at balls out of the zone.”

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