Is No. 1 seed Russia primed to make a deep tourney run in softball?


Raiders, Bradford, Mechanicsburg and Covington are thetop seeds in softball sectionals

By Jack Kramer - For the Sidney Daily News



Russia senior pitcher Sophie Francis throws during a game against Lehman Catholic on April 12 in Russia. The Raiders, which won their first district title in program history last year, are one of the top seeds in the Dayton Division IV sectional and are looking to make another long tournament berth.

Russia senior pitcher Sophie Francis throws during a game against Lehman Catholic on April 12 in Russia. The Raiders, which won their first district title in program history last year, are one of the top seeds in the Dayton Division IV sectional and are looking to make another long tournament berth.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

In the last 11 years, Bradford Covington, and Mechanicsburg have combined to rack up seven state tournament appearances in Division-IV softball. Of course, the Railroaders, 30-2 in 2021, are the defending state champs.

And these programs represent three of the top four seeds as a result of Sunday’s tournament draw for the southwest district tourney which starts next week.

But is it another club’s turn to advance to Akron?

The district’s No. 1 seed 16-1 Russia Raiders, ranked as the top D-IV team in Ohio in late April, would like nothing better than to streak through sectional, district and regional play, and make their first state tournament appearance in Akron on June 3 and 4.

This year’s Raiders club, which opens tourney action on May 12 versus the May 10 Tri-Village/Lehman Catholic winner, has the squad and the resume to do just that. They have won games by an average of eight runs for the season and by nine in the Shelby County Athletic League.

Russia has also beaten D-I powerhouse Northmont, which owns a victory over D-I number three seed Miamisburg. And last weekend, the Raiders clipped D-II Lima Bath and D-III Pemberville Eastern at the Katie Horstman Classic in Minster.

A strong Arcanum team and Midwest Athletic Conference programs St. Henry and New Bremen are among Russia’s victims, too.

The 2017 Russia team won 20 and beat Covington in the regular season and Bradford in the sectional before falling to Mechanicsburg. The Indians inflicted the regional loss on Russia last year.

Mechanicsburg, 10-2, the number three seed this season, meets Legacy Christian on May 10.

The number two seed Bradford Railroaders, 13-5, play either Jackson Center or Houston on May 12.

Covington, 14-4, seeded fourth, is matched against Riverside or Triad on May 12.

If these top four seeds win their four “North” sectionals, Covington and Mechanicsburg would tangle in a district title tilt, while Russia and Bradford could eventually meet district foes Southeastern and Fayetteville-Perry, respectively. They are the top two seeds in the pair of “South” sectionals.

In Division I, Sidney takes on Tecumseh on May 9. The winner battles Miamisburg.

Perhaps the biggest highlight from the entire OHSAA state tourney last June was the remarkable run produced by Bradford. After nipping favored Mechanicsburg, 1-0, in the region final, the Railroaders pounded New Riegel, 11-0, and Cuyahoga Heights, 8-0, to breeze through to the state title.

Initial 2022 sectional games in D-IV are slated for Tuesday, May 10. All of this month’s sectional tournament pairings for Divisions I, II, III and IV are displayed at the southwest district website which is available on the first page at ohsaa.org.

D-IV district finals are set for May 20. The D-IV regional is May 25 and 27 at Northmont High School. Greenville hosted the regional last year.

Tournament draws for high school baseball take place Sunday.

Russia senior pitcher Sophie Francis throws during a game against Lehman Catholic on April 12 in Russia. The Raiders, which won their first district title in program history last year, are one of the top seeds in the Dayton Division IV sectional and are looking to make another long tournament berth.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/05/web1_DSC_0529-1-1-1.jpgRussia senior pitcher Sophie Francis throws during a game against Lehman Catholic on April 12 in Russia. The Raiders, which won their first district title in program history last year, are one of the top seeds in the Dayton Division IV sectional and are looking to make another long tournament berth. Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News
Raiders, Bradford, Mechanicsburg and Covington are thetop seeds in softball sectionals

By Jack Kramer

For the Sidney Daily News