Prep softball: Waterford in district final Saturday

WATERFORD – Waterford would like to get a crack at perennial softball powerhouse Strasburg-Franklin.

So would Bainbridge Paint Valley.

The Wildcats (10-10) and Bearcats each will get an opportunity to face the seven-time state champion Tigers next week when they square off in an Ohio Division IV district championship game at Minford High Saturday at 1 p.m.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve won a district title,” said Waterford skipper Doug Baldwin. “I’ve been coaching softball 22 years, and we won one in my second year.”

The Waterford-Paint Valley winner is scheduled to play Strasburg-Franklin in a regional semifinal at Pickerington High Central May 29 at 5 p.m.

The four-seeded Wildcats advanced to the district showdown tilt with a 4-3 triumph over state-ranked (No. 4) and top-seeded Leesburg Fairfield at Minford Thursday. Senior righty Laura Hill (10-8) pitched a seven-inning complete game victory, and drove in what proved to be the game-winner on a groundout in the top of the fifth inning.

Waterford only had three hits, two by senior center fielder Nicole Neslein, in the contest, but was still able to knock Lions’ ace Arica Melson out of the box in the fifth.

“Our hits and walks went together well,” Baldwin said.

Sophomore second baseman Paige McCutcheon and Neslein also were credited with one RBI apiece. Waterford’s other run came on a wild pitch.

The Wildcats are also expected to start junior catcher Chelsey Streight, senior second baseman Lakin Tolson, junior shortstop Alana Heiss, senior third baseman Cierra Heiss, senior left fielder Lindsay Arnold, and senior right fielder Cassie Reed.

Waterford’s batters will likely be swinging again Paint Valley’s Mikayla Newland.

The third-seeded and Chris Medved-coached Bearcats are coming off a 4-1 win over second-seeded Racine Southern in a district semi at Minford Thursday.

Newland fanned a dozen, allowed two hits, and gave up an unearned run. Helping her own cause, she was 1-for-2 with an RBI and run scored.

Paint Valley’s Erin Riley was 1-for-4 with 2 runs; Laci Stanforth 2-for-4 with two ribbies; Nellie Rhoads 1-for-3 with an RBI; and Haley Nash 1-for-3 with a run scored.