Regan Martino of North Union tracks a ball down in shallow right field during the Division II Central District semifinals against Elgin at Olentangy High School. The Lady Cats won 8-0 and will move on to the district finals to play Bishop Ready. The game is schedule for Friday
(Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
The Lady Cats of North Union are no stranger to winning this season.
Wednesday evening was no different as NU advanced to the Division II District finals with an 8-0 win over Elgin.
Madison Wedding started inside the circle for the Lady Cats. She fanned 12 strikeouts and scattered four hits during the shutout.
The result was something that North union head coach Dawn Draper has come to expect from her senior pitcher.
“She is 14-0 for a reason,” said Draper. “She is ready for this. With her sitting out last year (with an injury), she wants this more than anything.
“She has also been to the state tournament in 2015,” said the coach. “So those seniors know what it takes to get there and right now, she is on fire.”
That fire continued in the batter’s box for the Lady Cats as they were able to jump on the Lady Comets early with a run in the first inning.
Josie Duncan drew a lead-off walk and advanced to second on a bunt by Abby Davis. Davis used her speed to reach first safely.
Madison Amstutz was called out on an infield fly ball and a ground ball to shortstop by Avery Clark advance Duncan to third.
Maddison Ruhl drove the ball up the middle to tally an RBI single for the early lead.
“Any game is important to jump out early,” said Draper. “It is kind of like a balloon, we deflate that balloon a little bit and get some security in our heads. Even one run is pretty crucial in a game like this.”
The Lady Cats struck again in the third inning.
Clark drove a long ball down the right field line with runners on to move. That pushed North Union out to a 4-0 advantage.
Clark’s homer prompted Elgin to bring in a new pitcher who was able to escape the inning without any more damage.
“Avery (Clark) did a nice job of getting us back on the board again,” said Draper. “That was a huge third inning. They pulled their pitcher out and that kind of got us off guard again.
“However, we picked it back up.”
The pitching change slowed the Lady Cats in the fourth inning, but not before Davis used her speed to score their fifth run.
Davis had swiped second and was making her way to third when the catcher threw a ball that sailed past Elgin’s third baseman. Davis continued around third to home to plate the run.
The Lady Cats continued to produce on the offensive side of the ball through six innings on their way to their 22nd win of the season.
The victory pits them against a familiar opponent, Bishop Ready, in the district finals.
North Union has tangled with the Silver Knights in the district finals nine different times, most recently, last year.
Ready won the district with a 3-2 win.
“This is the ninth time together and they are up 5-4,” said Draper. “So it has always been a show down. They are a great team and we knew it was probably going to come down to this again.”
Draper said those games have been battles in the past and she expect nothing but the same from this year’s Ready team.
“We know they are well-coached and they have good athletes or they wouldn’t be there, just like us,” she said. “They believe just as we do. There is nothing better than a great battle between two great teams in a district finals game.”
The Division II Central District finals game is scheduled to be played on Friday at 5 p.m. at Pickerington Central High School.
Elgin 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 3
N. Union 1 0 3 1 1 2 x 8 (12) 0
WP- Wedding, 7 IP
LP- Roth, 2 1/3 IP
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