MIDDLETOWN — With all bases properly anchored Wednesday, there was nothing left to slow down the Clinton-Massie softball team.
After a nearly 24-hour delay thanks to a faulty first base at Springboro High School, the Falcons punished Monroe in the sectional final, 12-2 in five innings.
Clinton-Massie (26-1) will play Ross Friday in the district championship game at Mason High School. The game is currently set for 5 p.m., but Clinton-Massie has graduation that evening, so the start may be moved earlier in the afternoon.
The sectional title wrapped up a wild 24 hours that started in Springboro and ended at Lefferson Park in Middletown. But Anthony Lauer’s Falcons were unfazed.
“It just goes with what we’ve done all year,” Lauer said. “I had all the faith in them in the world. We were prepared yesterday. We were ready to go. As soon as I made contact with them after school, I knew we were ready.”
The Falcons got all the runs they needed in the second and third innings.
Kelsey Carter reached on an error by the shortstop. She was sacrificed to second by Hailey Clayborn.
In an effort to try to throw behind Carter at second, the Monroe second baseman, Samantha Schwab, fired the ball past the shortstop and into left-centerfield. Carter would score on the overthrow, and the Falcons led 1-0.
An attempt to play small-ball led to what proved to be the game-winning runs.
Lindsey Carter started the third with a single to left. The number nine hitter, Ashlie Miller, was called upon to sacrifice. She bunted the first pitch foul.
On the next pitch, Miller blasted the ball over the centerfield fence for a two-run homer. Clinton-Massie led 3-0.
“That was awesome!” Lauer said. “That was the biggest hit of Ashlie’s career. Absolutely no doubt. For her to come back from that and put that over the fence — awesome!”
In total, the Falcons sent 10 to the plate in the third, scoring five. Clinton-Massie led 6-0. They followed that up by sending eight to the plate in the fourth and nine to the plate in the fifth. It was 12-0 heading to the home half of the fifth.
Alexis Arnold broke up the shutout with two outs in the fifth with a two-run homer. However, when Ashley McNabb bounced back to Taylor Florea with two on, the Falcons wrapped up the sectional title.
Outside of one bout of wildness in the fourth, Florea was solid in the circle. She scattered eight hits over five innings. She only struck out five, but her defense played flawlessly behind her.
“I don’t think we’ve committed 10 errors the entire year,” Lauer said. “And we’ve played a tough schedule. I tell Taylor all the time, ‘You’re job is not to get up there and strike everybody out. You’ve got awesome defense behind you. We’re going to make the plays, but continue to do what you do best.’”
The win gives the Falcons a rematch in the district final with Ross. Last year, Ross’ Kaitlyn Justice hit a grand slam in the seventh inning to give the Rams a 4-0 win over the Falcons.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” Lauer said. “We set this in our sights when we started the season. We wanted a rematch with Ross. Ross is a good team. They’re not the same team as last year, but obviously, they’re going for the district championship which means they’re a good team.”
@ Lefferson Park, Middletown
Division II Dayton 3
Clinton-Massie 12, Monroe 2, 5 innings
(12) CLINTON-MASSIE (ab-r-h-rbi) Sivert 3-1-1-1 Florea 4-0-2-0 Anderson 0-2-0-0 Amberger 3-1-2-2 K. Carter 3-3-2-2 Clayborn 2-0-0-0 Newton 4-0-1-1 Carruthers 4-0-1-1 L. Carter 3-2-2-0 Miller 2-3-2-2 Neace 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 28-12-13-9.
(2) MONROE (ab-r-h-rbi) Hensley 3-0-2-0 Eschmeyer 3-0-1-0 Ross 0-1-0-0 Arnold 3-1-2-2 Schwab 3-0-1-0 Key 3-0-1-0 McNabb 2-0-1-0 Decker 1-0-0-0 Taylor 2-0-0-0 Henry 2-0-0-0 Wagner 0-0-0-0 Salyers 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 22-2-8-2.
2B: CM-Florea; M-Arnold
Florea (W, 22-1) 5-8-2-2-2-5
Wagner (L) 4-10-10-9-2-3
HBP: By Wagner (K. Carter)
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton