Softball: Shawnee beats Eaton for district title, seniors make graduation

Cutline: Shawnee High School freshman Aleeseah Trimmer throws a pitch during their Division II district final game against Eaton on Friday afternoon at Arcanum High School. The Braves won 16-6 in six innings. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

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Cutline: Shawnee High School freshman Aleeseah Trimmer throws a pitch during their Division II district final game against Eaton on Friday afternoon at Arcanum High School. The Braves won 16-6 in six innings. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

ARCANUM — Dani Ross was fully prepared to wear her Shawnee High School softball uniform under her graduation gown.

Instead, the Braves senior hit a leadoff home run for the second straight game, guiding the Braves to their second consecutive Division II district championship with a 16-6 victory in six innings over Eaton on Friday afternoon at Arcanum High School — ensuring she and her senior teammates would get back to Springfield in time for graduation.

Last year, the Braves beat Eaton 13-4 to win a district championship, but graduated several key players from last year’s squad. The game was moved up to 2 p.m. to accommodate Shawnee’s 7 p.m. graduation ceremony.

“Honestly, I felt like no one expected us to be here, so the fact that we just run-ruled them again for the second year in a row is just beyond me,” Ross said. “I couldn’t be happier. We’re about to graduate, so everybody is stressed about that, but honestly, I’d rather just graduate in my uniform if that means we can win. I couldn’t be happier.”

Ross went 3-for-4, scoring four runs. She hit a leadoff home run in the Braves second round postseason game against Urbana.

“She’s our leader,” said Braves coach Devin Spitzer. “She gets everybody going, which is nice. We did it from top to bottom. Everybody contributed to the win.”

The Braves underclassmen also played a big role in getting their seniors home in time for graduation. Junior Iris Pierson went 3-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and four RBIs, junior Lydia Spitzer went 3-for-4 and freshman Maura Simpson hit a HR as Shawnee advanced to the D-II regional semifinals for the second straight season.

“I hope we can go farther than we did last year, especially when no one expected us to even be .500 this season,” Ross said. “If we could go to state, that’s all I care about. I couldn’t be happier. I’m proud of the seniors. I’m proud that we put out every effort we could today.”

The Braves led 6-0 midway through the second inning when Eaton (13-9) put four runs on the board, chasing freshman starter Aleeseah Trimmer from the game. Junior Ava Wills took over, tossing two scoreless innings until she got into trouble in the fifth inning. The Braves brought back Trimmer, who got out of the jam and finished the game with a scoreless sixth inning.

Shawnee tacked on one run in the fourth inning, five in the fifth and four in the sixth, tallying 13 hits in the game.

“We executed top to bottom, which we haven’t done for several games,” Spitzer said. “That was the difference. Our 1-2 punch at pitcher got the job done.”

The seventh-ranked Braves (19-7) advanced to face the winner of Jonathan Alder and Hebron Lakewood in a regional semifinal game at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Mason High School. Shawnee fell to the second-ranked Pioneers twice — 4-1 and 12-2 — during Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division play this season. Kenton Ridge and Greenville face off in the other regional semi.

“In one game, anything can happen,” Spitzer said. “That’s going to be our message: Anything can happen in one game.”

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