With so much focus on avenging last season’s loss to Ross, some might wonder if Clinton-Massie has anything left in its tank as it prepares to face Greenville Wednesday in a Division II Region 8 semifinal game at Mason High School.
Count CMHS head coach Anthony Lauer as one who believes the Lady Falcons did not put all their eggs in the Ross basket.
“Right now, I think they are as loose as they have been all year,” said Lauer. “They are buying into it. The school is buying into it. The community is buying into it. They are loose and excited. They are ready to go. It’s pretty cool.”
Add senior Madi Newton to that list as well.
“We’re not going to stop here, we’re not done,” she said. “I think we’re prepared.”
This will be Clinton-Massie’s first appearance in the OHSAA softball regional tournament.
Greenville, on the other hand, has won 10 district titles in the past 12 years, including the last three in a row.
The first pitch is set for 2 p.m. The other regional semifinal game will begin at 5 p.m. with Springfield Shawnee facing Jonathan Alder.
The regional semifinal winners will play at Noon Saturday at Mason High School.
“Greenville is a solid team,” said Lauer. “They play great defense. Seven of their nine hitters, from what I saw the other day, go from the left side. They are good at putting the ball in play. They’re deserving of where they’re at. They are a solid team.”
Greenville is 27-3 on the year and ranked No. 3 in this week’s state poll. Clinton-Massie is 27-1 and ranked No. 6.
The Green Wave has outscored opponents 325 to 56 this season but has not allowed a run in its last eight games (110 to 0 advantage). Greenville has not given up a run in four post-season games.
Two regulars for Greenville are hitting over .500 this season — Karsyn Shaffer and Courtney Bryson. Sydney Grote has eight homers to lead the team while Morgan Gilbert has seven homers and team-high 54 runs batted in.
Baylee Petry is the ace on the mound for the Lady Wave. She is 25-3 and has struck out 109 batters in 135 1/3 innings.
Clinton-Massie has outscored its opponents 318 to 50 this season.
While many of the Lady Falcons have played a high level of competition in the summer, Lauer knows playing at the regional level will be the biggest yet.
“We told them, ‘Some of you have been there, you’ve played top-notch travel ball, but you have not played in something like this,” he said. “The environment is starting to change. The excitement level, the intensity, the pressure … they’re going to feel a little more of that now than they do in travel ball.”
Playing in big games in the summer, though, will be something Hailey Clayborn will draw on comes Wednesday.
“This is the first time Clinton-Massie softball has been to regionals, so I think that’s what makes this special,” she said. “Big games (in the summer), you’re playing high competition and it’s a close game, I think playing summer ball definitely helps with the pressure.”
When times are tough, though, families come together and get stronger. This Lady Falcons team is certainly a family.
Said starting pitcher Taylor Florea, “We’re a strong team. I believe in us. I feel like part of a family.”
Ashlie Miller agreed.
“I could sit the whole game as long as I’m helping cheer on my teammates; I don’t mind,” Miller said. “These girls are my sisters. We’re each other’s family.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports