December 22, 2014

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Softball: Grafton stays unbeaten en route to OGSO Class B title

Grafton Nancy's Diner's Lenae West, right, and Meghan Newton celebrate during their 11-1 win over South Amherst. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Grafton Nancy’s Diner’s Lenae West, right, and Meghan Newton celebrate during their 11-1 win over South Amherst. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

GRAFTON — Grafton Nancy’s Diner can put a 20-0 season in the books with a state championship victory Saturday.

Nancy’s won its 19th straight game Wednesday night when it mercy-ruled South Amherst 11-1 to capture OGSO’s 12U Class B county championship at Reservoir Park.

And Columbia scored in the sixth inning to nip another South Amherst team, 6-5, for the 10U Class A county title.

The Nancy’s Diner-South Amherst score doesn’t seem to make sense, considering that Nancy’s had to hang on for a 9-8 win in their regular-season game.

But South Amherst on Wednesday night was without No. 1 pitcher Emily Stewart and another starter, Ashley Strauss. They are in South Carolina playing in a national tournament with their travel ball team.

Coach Jim Coggins said they will be home by Saturday, which is a good thing. That’s because South Amherst and Nancy’s Diner will tangle for the third time Saturday afternoon for OGSO’s Class B state title.

The South Amherst girls took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Emily Stewart scored on Alaina Becker’s triple to the gap in left-center field.

It didn’t last long.

Grafton scored two runs in the home half of the inning on Lenae West’s double to right field that sent Kierstyn Yates and pitcher Marcella McMahon running home.

The Grafton girls put up two more runs in the second, with Lauren Mathis and Yates crossing the plate. Yates had two hits and scored twice in her first two at-bats. Nancy’s put it out of reach with a four-run fourth inning, in which 10 batters went to the plate. McMahon walked twice and scored twice in her first two at-bats.

“This means a lot to us, because it was a really good team effort and everyone did their job,” McMahon said.

Grafton coach Chris West said it was unfortunate that South Amherst was without two starters.

“But our bats were really kicking tonight,” he said. “We were making contact. We really came to play and my hat’s off to (South Amherst coach) Jim Coggins and his whole team, because they’re tremendous players. We could play each other 10 times and each team could win five. We’re that even.”

South Amherst’s Coggins said he expects another close game Saturday.

The South Amherst Class A team raced to a 3-0 first-inning lead. But Columbia answered with two runs in its half of the first and took a 4-3 lead with two more runs in the third. The score was tied at 4 and 5. Columbia’s Caity Wilkins scored the eventual winning run in the sixth.

“Our girls never quit,” Columbia assistant coach Jim Schulte said. “All season, they’ve just fought to the bitter end. They deserve it. This was a team effort — they all did awesome.”

South Amherst coach Dave Moore said that, despite the loss, his team played well.

“Our first pitcher, Renee Clippinger, can really throw hard and this is her first year pitching,” Moore said. “She’s a girl I want to keep my eyes on. But we just didn’t hit the ball tonight. Too many of us were not swinging the bat, and Columbia has a very good team.”

Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or softball@bobdaniels.info.

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