Badin seeking elusive regional softball win against Northwestern

Badin High School’s softball team is eager for its fourth crack at the regional tournament.

The Rams will face Springfield Northwestern in a Division III regional semifinal Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Wright State University, a rematch of last year's regional semi that the Warriors won 4-0.

BHS is 0-3 as a regional participant, also making it to this point in 1992 and 2015.

“This is the next hump to get over,” Rams coach Greg Stitzel said. “I can remember talking about losing in the sectionals and trying to get out of there. Now here we are going back to Wright State. Hats off to the girls. They’ve done a great job of working hard to get here.”

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Badin (26-2) and Northwestern (25-2) will both send first-team All-Ohio pitchers to the circle, junior lefty Nicole Rawlings for the Rams and junior righty Jenna Robbins for the Warriors.

Rawlings is 24-2 with a 0.88 earned run average and 191 strikeouts in 166.2 innings. Robbins is 17-0 with a 0.74 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 113 innings.

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Robbins, who committed to Eastern Illinois University last week, is also Northwestern’s top hitter with a .500 average, 11 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs and 61 RBIs.

“Jenna’s had a good year, yes, but we’re a team approach. We don’t try to single anybody out,” 17th-year Warriors coach Missy Johnson said. “We want to continue playing well and improve on last year’s season, and the girls have definitely taken that on and done a good job.”

Northwestern, the Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division champion, is hitting .394 as a team and has seven starters returning from its 2016 regional runner-up squad.

Senior right fielder Maddie Current (.467), senior second baseman Abby Zerkle (.457), sophomore third baseman Miranda Gillman (.423) and junior shortstop Jamie Rutherford (.421) are among the top hitters.

“I haven’t said anything to the girls all year long, but this is the rematch that we were really looking forward to,” Stitzel said. “Are we peaking? I don’t know. We’ve just kind of carried on from last year. I think they’re picking each other up a lot more this year.”

The Rams’ team batting average is .381, led by junior third baseman Maddie Curtner (.477, 14 doubles, three homers, 40 RBIs), Rawlings (.442, 11 doubles, four triples, three homers, 32 RBIs) and freshman center fielder Gracie McHugh (.425, 21 RBIs).

All four teams in the regional are ranked in the state Top 10. Northwestern is third, Badin fifth, Columbus Ready eighth and West Liberty-Salem ninth (tied).

The latter two teams will meet in Wednesday’s second regional semifinal at 5 p.m. The regional final is set for noon on Saturday at WSU.

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