Softball: KR beats Clinton-Massie for first district title since 2018

Cutline: Kenton Ridge High School junior Kylie Ropp throws a pitch during their Division II district final game against Clinton-Massie on Friday evening at Miami East High School. The Cougars won 5-3 to win their first district title since 2018. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

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Cutline: Kenton Ridge High School junior Kylie Ropp throws a pitch during their Division II district final game against Clinton-Massie on Friday evening at Miami East High School. The Cougars won 5-3 to win their first district title since 2018. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

CASSTOWN — A day after tragedy struck the Kenton Ridge High School community, the Cougars softball team dedicated its district championship victory to their fallen classmate.

Kenton Ridge junior Kylie Ropp struck out 12 as the Cougars beat Clinton-Massie 5-3 in a Division II district final game on Friday evening at Miami East High School.

“It was definitely for Koda and Joel, 100 percent,” Ropp said.

Kenton Ridge senior Audrey Fyffe and sophomore Natalee Fyffe each had two hits as the Cougars won their first district championship since 2018.

“It was a very exciting day, a full of emotion day,” said Cougars coach Sarah Schalnat, “but we did it.”

On Thursday, Kenton Ridge senior Koda Austin died in a two-vehicle crash on Urbana Road near Ohio 334, while another classmate, Joel Cox, was also injured.

The Cougars wore stickers on their helmets and wristbands to honor their classmates.

“I’m really proud of us,” Audrey Fyffe said. “All of my four years we haven’t made it this far so it feels really special. We dedicated this to our classmate we just lost. It was a very special moment.”

The Cougars scored three runs in the first inning, including two on a single by Natalee Fyffe.

“We tell them we’ve got to score first,” Schalnat said. “It helped today being visitors because the last two we’ve been the home team. Being able to score first, it sets the tone for the game.”

Clinton-Massie senior Kayla Drake hit a home run in the first inning to cut the lead to 3-1.

The Cougars added insurance runs on an RBI single by Audrey Fyffe in the second and another on an RBI fielder’s choice by junior Kirsten Wright in the third inning to grab a 5-1 lead.

The Falcons cut the lead to 5-3 on a two-run homer by Falcons freshman Sydney Doyle, but they wouldn’t get any closer. Ropp retired the final 11 batters to seal the victory for the Cougars.

“She did her job in the sixth and seventh inning and we couldn’t have asked for more there,” Schalnat said. “I just keep trying to stay on her and tell her, ‘I need you to do it.’ I needed her to have composure on the mound and do it. She did that in the sixth and seventh inning.”

Kenton Ridge improved to 18-9 and advanced to face third-ranked Greenville in a regional semifinal game at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Mason High School. The Green Wave beat Cleves Taylor 4-3 in eight innings on Friday at Newton High School. They’re coached by Shawnee grad Jerrod Newland, who Schalnat has known since high school, she said.

“Our friendship goes way back,” Schalnat said. “We scrimmage them every year. It’s a friendly rivalry and obviously we both want to win. We look forward to a good matchup with them.”

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