The final at-bat took an eternity. Kenton Ridge pitcher Carly Turner threw pitch after pitch to Northwestern's Bry White with runners at first and second and two outs in the seventh inning Wednesday.
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White fouled a number of pitches into the fields surrounding the diamond at Shawnee High School before striking out on the 10th pitch. That one at-bat told the story of this Division II sectional final. Kenton Ridge won 3-2, but Northwestern showed fight until the last pitch.
“It’s always a good game between Northwestern and Kenton Ridge,” Kenton Ridge coach Sarah Schalnat said. “In the regular season, they went up 3-0, and we came back and tied it up and went ahead after that. It’s back and forth, good pitching, good batters on both sides.”
Kenton Ridge (22-1) advanced to play Monroe (18-2) in a Division II district championship at 5 p.m. Friday in Brookville. Monroe beat Franklin 5-0 on Wednesday in Lebanon.
Monroe has never won a district championship. Kenton Ridge last won the district title in 2016 before losing 2-1 to Hamilton Ross in the regional semifinal.
"I think the seniors really want it," Schalnat said. "They're focused. Every day they come to practice ready to practice. They're shocked if I give them any time off. They know they're going to practice and be there for a couple hours."
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This Kenton Ridge team ranks second in the state and has won nine games in a row since losing 7-6 to Jonathan Alder on April 27. Turner, who won her 20th game Wednesday, is a big reason why. She carried the Cougars at the plate and on the mound in this game.
Turner drove in the first two runs of the game with a single in the first. Peyton Fleming and Lexee Trainer scored on the hit. Turner also doubled in the third.
On the mound, Turner struck out five. The Warriors recorded eight hits but left nine runners on base.
“Big day for Carly,” Schalnat said. “Carly does a great job. She has the command on the pitching rubber. When she gets up, I expect a hit. She’s going to put the ball in play.”
The Warriors rallied after falling behind 2-0, tying the game in the fourth. A double by Miranda Gillman scored White and Hannah Weymouth.
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Kenton Ridge regained the lead in the fifth. A single by Trainer scored Jordan Rucker. That turned out to be the game-winning RBI.
Northwestern finished the season 18-8. It was playing in Division II this season after competing in Division III last season. A year ago, it reached the state semifinals before losing 10-0 to Warren Champion.
This was the final game for four players who started in the final four last season: seniors Jamie Rutherford, Ashlee Barger, Macie Crew and Jenna Robbins.
"We had four great seniors," Northwestern coach Missy Johnson said. "It's hard to put into words how much they mean to the team, but we really had a great season bonding as a family. We're close. It's just sad we had to end today."