West Liberty-Salem, Mechanicsburg back in regional semifinals

For the second straight season, two Champaign County softball teams will play in the regional semifinals.

In Division III, ninth-ranked West Liberty-Salem (19-9) will play Brookville (20-4) at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Wright State University. It’s the third straight regional trip for the Tigers.

“The girls are ready,” said Tigers coach Kenleigh Farris. “They’re excited.”

In D-IV, third-ranked Mechanicsburg (18-3) will face National Trail at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Greenville’s Stebbins Field.

The Indians won the Ohio Heritage Conference North Division crown, while the Tigers finished third. Second-place West Jefferson is also one of four teams remaining in the Dayton regional.

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“Our conference is tough,” said Indians coach Abbey DeLong. “It really does prepare you for the tournament. … I definitely think we have one of the toughest conferences around.”

• West Liberty-Salem beat Williamsburg 7-1 last weekend to earn its third straight district title. Senior Kelsey Day hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Tigers an early lead and junior catcher Kayle Henderson homered to help seal their third straight district title.

“The girls have been hitting really well, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to me at all,” Farris said. The victory gave Farris 100 career coaching victories after five seasons as the Tigers head coach. The senior class has won 81 games over the last four years.

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“Since I’ve come in, the girls have bought in to what I’ve asked them to do,” she said. “We’ve found a way to make wins happen sometimes when you didn’t think it was going to happen. The girls work really hard for me and I couldn’t be more appreciative. They’re super.”

West Jefferson will play Benjamin Logan in the other D-III regional semifinal at 5 p.m. Wednesday at WSU. The regional final will be held at noon Saturday at WSU.

Brookville has won four straight games, including 12-2 over Deer Park in a district final. The Blue Devils have two pitchers — Kristin Gardner and Ashley Lenser — with sub-2.00 ERAs.

“The girls have found a way to take our losses this year and learn from it,” Farris said. “They’re pulling it together for what we call the second season, when it really matters the most.”

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• Mechanicsburg enters the regional having won nine straight games, including 8-2 over OHC rival Southeastern in a district final. The Trojans led 2-0 early, but the Indians scored eight unanswered runs. Hannah DeLong went 2-for-3, including a home run in the seventh inning.

“That’s what I love about these girls, the fight that they have,” DeLong said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re down or not, they find a way to get it done.”

The Indians fell to Bradford 2-0 in the regional semifinals at Greenville last year.“The girls definitely weren’t satisfied last year,” DeLong said. “Our plan all along was to get back to where we were last year and hopefully have a better comeback.”

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Top-ranked Minster will play Felicity Franklin in the other D-IV semifinal at 2 p.m. in Greenville. The regional final will be held at noon Saturday.

“We’re going to grind it out and see what happens,” DeLong said. “Our goal is to win the day.”

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