JA will face West Branch in state semifinals


Members of the Jonathan Alder softball team celebrate after beating Clinton-Massie in the Division II regional championship game on Saturday at Mason High School. Pictured from left are Emily Walker, Angela Brandel, Katelynn Perkins and Jillian Jaske (33).
(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
For the second consecutive season, the Lady Pioneers of Jonathan Alder are among the top four Division II softball teams in the state of Ohio.
Alder earned its second straight trip to the state tournament in Akron by beating Clinton-Massie, 7-5, during Saturday’s regional finals.
The Lady Pioneers will take a 21-6 record into Thursday’s 10 a.m. state semifinal contest against Beloit West Branch.
The game will be played at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
The Warriors are 26-3 and feature four players who are batting .430 or better for the campaign.
Peyton Alazaus is at .500, followed by Grace Heath (.493), Delany Rito (.469) and Kelsey Byers (.438).
“From what we’ve been able to scout, they hit very well at the top of their batting order,” said Lady Pioneer coach Dave McGrew.
Six different batters have hit home runs this year, while eight have multiple doubles.
The game could very well come down to which team’s pitcher can hold the opposing offense in check.
The Lady Pioneers are batting .390 as a squad and have hit a single-season record 22 homers this spring.
Katelynn Perkins will take a 19-4 record into the circle for JA.
“I think KP will hold people down,” said McGrew.
The Warriors rely on two pitchers.
Byers had compiled a 1.22 ERA in 98 innings, while Kelly Coffeit’s ERA stood at 1.96 in 75 innings.
Byers reportedly is going to pitch at Duke University.
Regardless of who takes the circle for West Branch, she will have to contend with an Alder batting order that has been moving the ball well.
The first four batters in Alder’s order – Lindsey Potter, Emily Walker, Jillian Jaske and Perkins – have each consistently gotten on base this season.
Potter and Jaske supply home run power at the top of the order.
“I’ll put our top four or five batters up against anyone in the state of Ohio,” said McGrew.
While the top of the order has been impressive, the bottom half has also come around.
“We had Sophia (Thomas) batting second until Jillian came back from an injury and then we reshuffled our order,” said McGrew.
“We moved Sophia down to ninth and she has been a God–send,” he said. “She got that slap bunt on Saturday that really got us going late in the game.”
McGrew has been preaching to his team that they have yet to play what he calls a completely “clean game.”
“Our defense does a great job, but every game we seem to have one or two breakdowns,” he said. “I told the girls after Saturday’s game that we only have a couple of opportunities left to come up with that clean game.”
McGrew said that although the Lady Pioneers have been resilient against their errors so far, they can’t afford one or two critical mistakes at the state level.
“These girls are, however, good at making adjustments during games,” he said. “They are a tough team and they just have to go out on Thursday and play their type of game.”

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