Round 3 between the Kenton Ridge and Shawnee High School softball teams was a winner-take-all posteason bout.
The host Braves took the Cougars best punch and held on to survive and advance in another classic matchup between two Clark County rivals.
Shawnee grabbed an early lead and held on to beat Kenton Ridge 4-2 in a Division II second round sectional game on Friday evening.
»RELATED: High School scoreboard, roundup
Shawnee sophomore catcher Alise Moneypenny had two hits and an RBI and sophomore first baseman Reagan Simpson had two RBIs as the Braves improved to 16-7 overall.
Shawnee advanced to play second-seeded Graham in a D-II sectional final at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Tecumseh High School. The sectional final winner will advance to the D-II districts at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at Brookville High School.
Graham beat fourth-seeded Northwestern 2-1 in the other second round on Friday. Both games were originally scheduled for Thursday, but were postponed due to inclement weather.
Kenton Ridge senior Paige Williams went 2-for-3 for the Cougars (15-9), who were eliminated from the postseason, but have one regular season game remaining on Monday.
“(Shawnee) made some really nice plays,” said Cougars coach Sarah Schalnat. “I’m proud of the kids for coming back. It could’ve been a 4-0 ball game or eve more than that. We fought back.”
Shawnee and Kenton Ridge split the regular season with each team winning 7-6 at their home field in mid-April.
This time, the Braves jumped out to 2-0 lead in the first inning. Natalie Linn walked and Moneypenny singled to put runners on second and third base with two outs. Simpson followed with a single to give Shawnee the early advantage.
“She waited back on that changeup and did a really good job just putting the ball in play and getting those two runs in,” said Braves coach Chris Roberts.
Shawnee scored again in third inning. Senior Paree Furness and sophomore Tori Huxley hit back-to-back singles to start the inning and Furness scored on a groundout to second base by Moneypenny to make it 3-0.
The Braves followed with another run in the fourth inning. Freshman Dani Ross and senior Hannah Spitzer hit back-to-back singles and after two KR wild pitches, Ross came around to score to make it 4-0.
Shawnee sophomore pitcher Hannah Beers (12-4) allowed just two earned runs on five hits in seven innings on the mound for the Braves.
“She just moved the ball around really well,” Roberts said. “She ran it in onto their hands a lot, she had a lot of pop on it and her changeup was working really well. She kept them off balance.”
Beers allowed just one hit until the sixth inning. Cougars senior Jordan Rucker led off the inning with a single and scored on a double by Williams. Two batters later, KR’s Madison Hall singled, scoring Williams to make it 4-2 with just one out.
The next batter, Kelcie Schnitzler, hit a rope to the Shawnee second baseman Linn, who made a diving grab and then threw to second base to force out the runner to get the Braves out of the inning.
“I told all the girls to tune into ESPN tonight because that play is probably going to be on it,” Roberts said. “It was an unbelievable play at that time in the game. They were hitting and it just snuffed out a rally right there. It was the play of the game.”
The Braves beat Graham 8-0 back on March 29, but Roberts and his team aren’t taking anything for granted.
“We’re excited to play,” Roberts said. “In tournament time, you just look for your next one and move on. It’ll be fun.”
Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to exclusive deals and newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.