By Marc Tobias
It's probably safe to say Marion Local is on an emotional high after their Division IV district final softball victory over Ada in Wapakoneta last week.
That win propelled the Flyers, 15-10 after a Monday win over Versailles, to their first ever regional semifinal berth which is being held at Wayne High School in Huber Heights where they'll take on West Liberty-Salem (22-5) Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
"Right now they really believe they can make it to state and they've had a real positive attitude, there's no doubt about that," said Marion Local coach Gary Moeder. "I think about the time of the Minster tourney game, they all of a sudden said it was time to kick it into gear."
West Liberty is also entering with a lot of confidence, and coming off an 8-15 season a year ago and the Tigers have had few missteps this season thanks to a team batting average that is over .300.
"During the regular season we've been able to beat a lot of teams by outscoring them by a lot of runs, but so far in the postseason we've had to manufacture runs a little differently, and from a coaching standpoint I'm pretty comfortable with both styles of play," said West Liberty coach Lenay Detwiler. "I think that the team that is most focused is going to win. Both sides will really need to concentrate and take advantage of their scoring opportunities." The deeper you go in the softball tourney it's likely that the pitching will be much stronger and you'll have to manufacture a few more runs, and the Tigers will see one of those such challenges when it faces off with the Flyers' Dana Hartings this Wednesday.
Hartings has been stellar in (Continued from page 1B)
the postseason, as she's struck out 54 batters in the Flyers four games.
"Offensively they like to slap and get people on base," Moeder said. "They're not shy about advancing the runner either, once they get a runner on they'll do anything they can to advance them a base or two."
Lyndsay Castle is the Tigers top offensive threat batting a robust .430 on the season, while Shannon Bowman isn't far behind at .383.
"Keep number 21 off the base, she's the number two hitter and has real good speed," Moeder said. "She's always in position to advance a base if not two, and then offensively we'll have to try and drive the ball right through them."
Freshman pitcher Ally Crawford will take the mound and is a threat at the plate for West Liberty.
Crawford (11-3) has a 0.79 ERA on the season with over 100 strikeouts while batting .391 at the plate.
"Not a bad pitcher, she's a freshman so hopefully we can get to her early and maybe try to get her rattled a bit," Moeder said. "Against Cincinnati Landmark Christian when she got into a little bit of trouble, that's when she decided to throw and get out of those situations. She's got pretty decent speed and likes to throw a lot of off speed stuff."
Crawford and her Tigers teammates won their district final against Landmark Christian 5-0.
If Crawford should get into trouble, junior Laura Cooksey will enter in relief. Cooksey has a 2.00 ERA and an 11-2 record.
"I've been very happy with both of my pitchers, they've both had great seasons," Detwiler said. "Ally has some speed and can throw it pretty hard, and she has some junk type pitches that are pretty effective as well."
Moeder said the Tigers defense appears fundamentally sound and that his team will need to get some solid base hits to pull out the victory.
The winner will face the Bradford vs. Covington winner on Saturday once again at Wayne High School in Huber Heights at 1 p.m.