FORT LORAMIE — Hitting hasn’t been much of a problem this year for Fort Loramie’s softball squad, but it couldn’t figure out Ansonia’s Lauren Burns in a 5-1 Division IV sectional final loss on Thursday.
While the Redskins won’t be making a postseason run, that doesn’t detract from a successful season that will likely include at least a share of a Shelby County Athletic League title.
Fort Loramie (18-8, 9-1 SCAL) was scheduled to travel to Botkins (3-14) on Friday and is scheduled to travel to Fairlawn (2-20) on Saturday for makeup SCAL games. The Redskins run-ruled both the Trojans and Jets in the teams’ first matchups earlier this year, and victories will clinch a share of the SCAL title.
The season is already a big improvement over 2019 when the squad finished 14-12.
“Prior to the season, I had team goals in our locker room, and I thought a 15-12 record would be a step in the right direction, and here we are at 18-8 with two games left to play that I think are very winnable,” Fort Loramie coach Brad Turner said.
“I’m really proud of what they’ve done this year. And that’s a unique thing, that even with (a tournament loss), we’ve still got a lot left to play for. We’ve haven’t had (an SCAL title) in a while.”
Russia (21-2, 8-1) is on pace to share the SCAL title if it collects three more league wins. The Raiders, which have won the last three SCAL titles outright, were scheduled to travel to Fairlawn on Friday and are scheduled to host Botkins on Saturday and travel to Anna on Wednesday. The squad won first-round league matchups against those three opponents by at least nine runs.
The Redskins, which beat Russia 7-5 on March 29 and lost 11-4 on April 19, will lose three seniors to graduation. Among them is senior Clara Gephart, who entered Friday’s matchup tied for the program’s career hits record. The squad will also lose seniors Katelyn DeLoye, Lorissa Hoying and Olivia Frey.
Gephart had 136 career hits entering Friday’s game.
“She’ll be a tough one to see go, as are all four of the girls,” Turner said. “I’m very pleased with where we’re at. We’ve got a lot of good talent and athleticism coming back.”
Fort Loramie managed three hits against Burns, who is a junior. She struck out 13 batters and reached 200 career strikeouts in the contest.
“We haven’t struck out like that this season,” Turner said. “She’s a little bit different as far as the velocity. She definitely brought something to the table we haven’t seen a whole lot of. … We threatened a couple of times, but it just took us too long to adjust.”
Still, the Redskins had a chance late.
Burns walked Ava Turner and Ella Hoelscher to start the seventh. After Kate Ruhenkamp struck out, Delaney Higgins hit a grounder back at Burns, who threw to third base. Turner easily beat the throw to load the bases.
“I was thinking we were going to have to hit our way back,” Brad Turner said. “She hadn’t walked too many before that. I think she got a little amped up there, and we were able to get a couple of girls on.”
Lauren Bergman then hit a ground out that allowed Hoelscher to score and cut the gap to four runs. Leadoff hitter Ava Turner followed with a hard line drive, but shortstop Kensey Hartzell made a leaping catch in shallow center field and kept hold of the ball after falling to the ground for the final out.
“I was thinking that if we got Ava on there and would have Aubrey Baker coming up, she’s liable to pop one out, and we’ve got a tie ball game,” Turner said.
Bailey Schmit hit a two-out double in the first to score one run and give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Alyssa Noggler batted in a run on a single in the second to push the lead to 2-0.
The Tigers added two runs in the fifth after Hartzell and Schmit each hit RBI singles to right field. Ansonia pushed its lead to 5-0 in the sixth after Hartzell doubled to lead off the inning, advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a fly out.
Kate Ruhenkamp was charged with the loss for Fort Loramie. She pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up three earned runs on eight hits while striking out four batters. Lauren Bergman pitched 3 1/3 innings and gave up two earned runs on five hits.
It was the first tournament game for the No. 4 seed Redskins. Ansonia, the sectional’s No. 6 seed, advances to face Cross County Conference rival and No. 6 seed Covington in a district semifinal on Monday. The winner will face the winner the Russia vs. Riverside semifinal in a district final on Friday.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.