The Northwestern Warriors feel the same way about last season’s stunning loss in the Division III regional finals as they do about Bry White’s fifth-inning blast.
Both are long gone.
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Northwestern — aided by White’s home run and Jenna Robbins’ one-hitter — beat Hamilton Badin 7-0 in the D-III regional semifinals Wednesday at Wright State University. The Warriors reached the D-III finals last season, too, before falling on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh.
“New year, new game,” White said. “We just have to forget about everything that happened last year and come out strong.”
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For the most part, Robbins (18-0) did that against the Rams, striking out seven and walking two. The Rams (26-3) managed four baserunners against Robbins on a single, two walks and an error. Senior Samantha Sander’s clean single to left in the top of the second was the Rams’ lone hit.
“My defense, they’re the ones that held Badin to a one-hitter,” Robbins said. “Props to them. If they weren’t there I don’t know what I’d do.”
The Warriors (26-2) got to Badin starter Nicole Rawlings (24-3) with a run in the third on Jamie Rutherford’s RBI single. After Robbins struck out the side in the fourth, the Warriors made it 3-0 on Maddie Current’s RBI triple and Miranda Gillman’s RBI single.
White’s homer in the fifth, a shot to left over the 200-foot mark, and Robbins’ RBI double pushed the lead to 5-0. Northwestern capped the scoring in the sixth on Badin’s two-out fielding error and two ensuing throwing errors with the bases loaded that plated two more.
“I’m proud of them for what they’ve done and what they’ve accomplished,” Badin coach Greg Stitzel said of his Rams’ third straight regional appearance. “We’ve just got to fight our way back. The program has come a long way and it it seems like we’re just one or two plays away.”
The Rams thought they were on their way in the first inning when right fielder Anna Cantwell made a spectacular diving catch on a ball hit over her head and near the line. But from there the Rams committed four uncharacteristic errors.
“We had our opportunity early,” Stitzel said after the Rams stranded one runner in each of the first three innings. “We gave them momentum and that was all (Robbins) needed. She perked up and was her normal self. A great pitcher and a great team.”
Northwestern finished with nine hits, including multi-hit games from Ashlee Barga, Robbins and Current. Five players knocked in runs.
“That’s something that we have, that each player can contribute in a different way,” Northwestern coach Missy Johnson said. “That kind of showed what we can do.”
The Warriors get another chance Saturday to put their talents on display. Northwestern plays Columbus Bishop Ready (13-10) at noon for a trip to the D-III state semifinals.
The Warriors were one out away last season. Leading 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Johnstown-Monroe won it with a two-out, two-run homer.
“It’s not (on our mind),” Robbins said. “We know that it happened, but we have to get that out of our mindset. I don’t any of us are nervous at all. That’s different from last year. Last year we were super nervous. This year we’re chill.”
Columbus Ready 4, West Liberty-Salem 2: The Tigers’ rally came up short in the top of the seventh with one runner thrown out at home and another stranded on third to end the game.
Ready took a 2-0 lead in the first on a two-out double and wild pitch. West Liberty Salem (21-6) answered in the top of the second with junior Dierdre McGill’s two-run double to score senior Kelby Strapp and sophomore Hallie Strapp.
Ready added another run in the bottom of the second and went up 4-2 in the fifth, that run aided by a throwing error.
“I felt like a lot of things were uncharacteristic of us,” West Liberty-Salem coach Kenleigh Farris said. “I wish things would have gone a little bit differently. We knew we had to be a little cleaner than we were and it just didn’t happen today.”
Hallie Strapp reached on an error to start the seventh. Kelby Strapp doubled and Hallie was thrown out at the plate. McGill singled with two outs and the game ended on a grounder to second when McGill was called out for obstruction.
“The intensity in the last inning was definitely something I wish I saw more of during the game, but I’m proud of how they were fighting back at the end,” Farris said.
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