Softball: Russia beats Fort Loramie 5-4 for SCAL title

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FORT LORAMIE — Russia had a bumpy stretch midway through the season against a group of strong opponents. It was apparent on Saturday the Raiders learned from the experience.

Russia held on to beat rival Fort Loramie 5-4 on the road for the Shelby County Athletic League title. It’s the sixth SCAL title in the last seven seasons for the Raiders, which finished second behind Anna last season.

Russia (15-9, 11-1 SCAL) lost six games in a 10-game stretch in mid-April, including a two-run loss to Fort Loramie. The squad has won eight of its last 11, including a key 3-2 league win over Anna last week.

“It’s just really awesome to see how we came together as a team and grew with each other,” Russia senior right fielder Kori Goubeaux said. “We didn’t start out great, but it’s awesome to see how we grew. Right now in the end (of the season) is when it matters most. … Our defense has really improved, and it’s coming through right now when we need it most.”

Goubeaux is one of few returnees for the Raiders, which lost eight seniors to graduation from an 18-8 campaign a year ago.

The varsity newcomers have improved over the last month according to first-year coach and Fort Loramie native Kenleigh Ludlow.

“All the girls played hard and played together, and it’s what we’ve been working for all year,” Ludlow said. “It’s definitely just coming to fruition right now, all the highs and lows we’ve been through this season. We’re really coming together right now.

“It was a team win. The seniors especially played really great, and that was awesome.”

Russia junior Ella Phlipot pitched a complete game; she gave up four earned runs on 11 hits and two walks with one strikeout.

“Ella’s demeanor is always relaxed and focused,” Ludlow said. “And that’s something that we really play well behind. So no surprise that she was able to get the job done there.”

Ludlow also credited catcher Shay Hammonds for playing well, especially with the deep backstop at Loramie’s field. She also credited second baseman Addison Shappie and left fielder Laci Phlipot for playing well.

“It was awesome, a team win, and it was super fun. Super proud of them,” Ludlow said.

The Redskins outhit Russia 11-6. But the Raiders made plays in the field most of the times they needed to.

Russia didn’t get a hit until the fourth inning, but it did damage once it started.

Saige Hoying hit a single on a line drive to center with one walk, then Shay Hammonds drew a walk. Goubeaux then hit a three-run home run over the center-field fence to give Russia a 3-1 lead.

“I saw it coming inside,” Goubeaux said. “And those are my favorites. I knew I had to just sit back and go with it, because I’m going to hit those way better than I’m going to hit an outside pitch any day.”

Kylie Doseck hit a single on a fly to left field with one out in the fifth, then Jaela Shappie hit a two-run homer over the left-field fence to increase the lead to 5-2.

“Saige came up big and Shay came up big in those at-bats (in the fourth) to get those base runners on, and I think that gave Kori confidence in the box that she needed to really have a good swing on the ball,” Ludlow said. “And that really just gave everyone on our bench the confidence.”

“… We have great hitters and I think that showed. Jaela and Kori are both great hitters, so not surprised that they were able to make something happen. It was just extra great that it was a home run.”

The Raiders started tournament play with a 10-3 win over Lehman Catholic on Friday. They have won district titles and advanced to regionals each of the last three seasons.

To do it again, they’ll first need to beat Ansonia on the road in a district semifinal on Tuesday. Russia, which is the Dayton Division IV sectional’s No. 4 seed, lost 3-1 to No. 2 Ansonia (20-6) in the Newton Invitational on April 19.

“We’re going to have to really play together as a team and stay on each other’s backs for defense,” Goubeaux said. “Come together and hit the ball and push each other.”

Fort Loramie came up big with two outs in the sixth to close the gap.

Jayna Ruhenkamp hit a single on a fly to center, then Ashlyn Eilerman hit a single on a line drive to left. Alex Rose hit a single on a hard ground ball to left, which drove in one run and cut the gap to 5-3. Laney Barhorst then drove in a run on a line drive to center to cut the gap to one.

Russia intentionally walked Claire Hoying to load the bases, but Phlipot coaxed an infield fly out to prevent further damage.

Morgan Pleiman drew a walk with two outs in the seventh, but Phlipot coaxed a fly out to left field to end it.

“The bottom of the order today was the one that was getting it done, pushing and challenging, getting on base, and that was that was really good to see,” Fort Loramie coach Brad Turner said.

“That was a really good takeaway, knowing that we’ve got that fight all the way through the lineup. It was one of the things I talked about with the girls. I liked that there was good juice throughout the game. Even though we were down, they fought hard to the end.”

Fort Loramie (20-9) finishes SCAL play with a 10-2 record. The Redskins shared the 2021 title with the Raiders, when the current seniors were freshman.

Fort Loramie beat Russia 6-4 on April 15 but lost 5-4 to Anna three days later. (Anna is scheduled to travel to Botkins on Saturday evening in a game that will determine third place in league standings).

Turner said he’s proud of the success the team has had this year.

“But I’m not going to lie; the league the championship was a goal,” Turner said. “We came up a little bit short with today’s loss as well as getting beat by Anna.

“But in an attempt to see the silver lining, this is the type of game that there’s a tournament atmosphere. Hopefully we can pull a little bit from that and know that we can hang and fight until the end. We just need that big hit or that big out at some point to finish the game off.”

Kate Ruhenkamp was charged with the loss. She gave up five earned runs and struck out eight batters while walking two.

The Redskins are the No. 3 seed in the Dayton D-IV sectional. They’re scheduled to host No. 18 Triad in a district semi on Tuesday and if victorious will advance to a district final on Friday, likely against No. 4 Covington (20-7).

Reach Sidney Daily News editor Bryant Billing at 937-538-4822, or follow @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook or @TopBillingSport on X (Twitter).

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