Shawnee and Jonathan Alder will get to know each other well in the coming years. Alder is leaving the Southwestern Buckeye League for the Central Buckeye Conference, where the Braves have resided since the conference was born in 2001.
The Shawnee softball team got an early glimpse at a future conference rival Wednesday. The Braves just hope it’s not a preview of things to come.
Ninth-ranked Alder beat No. 8 Shawnee 11-2 in a Division II regional semifinal at Mason High School.
“I think they’re going to bring a lot to the conference,” Shawnee coach Chris Roberts said. “There’s a lot of good teams in the Kenton Trail. It’s going to really up the conference.”
This was the second time in four seasons Alder beat Shawnee in the regional. The Pioneers won 8-7 in the regional final at Mason in 2014 on their way to an appearance in the state championship game. It was their first final four appearance.
This was Shawnee’s first regional appearance since 2014. The Braves finished the season 23-7.
“We had a great season,” Roberts said. “It doesn’t detract from that. That’s what we told the girls in the huddle after the game. The game didn’t end up the way we wanted it to, but really for only one team in the state does it end up the way you want it to. Everyone goes out with a loss unless you are the state champs. We were one of the final 16 teams in the state. I was proud of that. We won a lot of big games. We won a lot of big conference games.”
Alder scored in every inning. It led 3-0 after two innings, but Shawnee rallied with two runs in the third. Aliya Saunders and Claudia Spitzer drove in runs with two-out singles.
The hope was short-lived. Alder pitcher Katelyn Perkins retired the next 10 batters after allowing the two runs.
The Pioneers (22-4) kept extending their lead, adding one run in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fifth and four in the sixth. Alder lead-off hitter Kayla Fredendall hit two home runs.
“We ran into a really good team,” Roberts said. “Jonathan Alder is an excellent softball team. They hit the ball very well and play excellent defense.”
Shawnee didn’t help itself by committing five errors.
“We made errors today, which is pretty uncommon for us,” Roberts said. “We’re usually a very solid defensive team. That’s really been the strength of our team all year long. And we made enough to go around.”