Two teams who were not league champions will play for the Division II Cincinnati 2 sectional championship 5 p.m. Tuesday at Kings High School.
Wilmington of the South Central Ohio League and Ross of the Southwest Ohio Conference trailed champions Clinton-Massie (SCOL) and Little Miami (SWOC) in their respective leagues but will have a chance to advance to the district tournament with a win on Tuesday.
The Lady Hurricane is the No. 6 seed in the sectional while Ross came in as the No. 4 seed.
Wilmington is 15-8 on the season while Ross is 13-9. The winner of this game advances to the district championship game 5 p.m. Friday at Mason High School against either Clinton-Massie or Monroe.
Ross made it to the Div. II state Final Four last year in what was the final season for legendary head coach Paul Fernandez. With that in mind, a 13-win season might be considered sub-standard for the Ross program. In fact, Ross has won 20 or more games in four of the last five seasons.
“A lot of coaches point to that being due to the fact that long-time head coach Paul Fernandez retired, which certainly would have a big impact on that program,” WHS coach Glen Blessing said.
Several players return from that time, including top hitter Ally Ivey, Whitley Arno, Maddy Foster and pitcher Kenzie Meyer.
Ivey, an honorable mention All-Ohio catcher last year, led Ross with a .500 batting average and 20 runs batted in this season. Ross hit .362 as a team. WHS has a .355 team batting average.
Arno (.471), Haley Grau (.439) and Foster (.437) also hit over .400 for the Rams. Foster led Ross with 22 stolen bases while Emily Poling had 15 steals.
Meyer is 11-9 as the top pitcher for Ross. She has 112 strikeouts in 132 2/3 innings over 20 games.
“Two former players took over, so they still play ‘Ramball’ … get one on, bunt her over, hit or bunt her in,” said Blessing. “They have speed at the top of the lineup and strong bats in the middle. We will definitely need to be geared up to defend the short game.”
Wilmington’s defense has been generally solid this season. And it’s had to be. Lady Hurricane hurlers have not been dominate strikeout pitchers, just 99 in 139 1/3 innings this season.
Wilmington has also not given teams many free bases this season with just 17 walks.
Olivia Veidt has been the bell-cow of the staff down the stretch. The freshman is 11-4 in 87 innings this season. She has 69 strikeouts and just eight walks.
Hunter Toller, Courtney Smart and Veidt lead the WHS offense.
Toller hit .438 this season with 3 homeruns and 19 runs batted in. Smart hit .419 with 21 RBI while Veidt came in .434 with a team-high 4 HRs.
Kendra McKenna hit .386 with a team-best 11 doubles. Lyla Self hit. 382 and Sophie Blessing hit .364. Blessing led WHS with 10 stolen bases.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports