With it’s most impressive victory of the season, a 13-1 crushing of visiting North Union on Thursday, May 1, the Jonathan Alder softball team sent a resounding message that will likely reverberate across the entire state of Ohio.
Both teams entered the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division with matching No. 9 state rankings. Alder in Division II and North Union in D-III, but only one, the host Pioneers (16-1, 9-0) looked like a team worthy of such a lofty ranking.
Alder was strong in just about every aspect of the game for five and half innings, but then put together a sixth inning that won’t soon be forgotten. The home team pounded the ball and scored nine runs in the frame which was finished off with an explanation point in the form of a 3-run home run by Brooke Foster, which gave the Pioneers the run-rule victory.
“It was a great win,” Alder coach Dave McGrew said. “Everybody contributed. It definitely feels good.”
It was only fitting that Foster would be the one to put the finishing touches on North Union. The senior has set the tone for the Pioneers all season and led off this game with a double to the gap in left-center and scored the first run. For the game she had three doubles and the game-ending home run.
“She’s been leading us in hitting most of the year,” McGrew said. “She hits for power, leads us in steals and is just amazing.”
Almost as impressive was pitcher Mady Watson, who held the explosive North Union offense in check. She allowed just one unearned run and surrendered just four hits. She was able to change speeds and hit her spots keeping the Wildcats off-balance.
The big win was the Pioneers 16th straight since opening the season with a loss at Bishop Hartley. More importantly the victory gives Alder a stranglehold on the MOAC league standings. At 9-0 the team now holds a two-game lead on North Union with just three games to play.
“This win was big for us for a couple reasons,” the coach said. “Not being in a league for 12, 13, 14 years whatever its been we haven’t had a chance to play for a league title. North Union and River Valley are two very good opponents and we knew that we’d have to play well if we wanted a chance to win the league.
The coach knows that his team is in the driver’s seat when it comes to league play, but he wants to make sure nobody losses focus.
“We’ve got the bulls-eye on us now,” he said. “We beat the three teams we still have to play in the league, but nothing is given. We need to try and wrap this up and start focusing on the upcoming district tournament.”
Alder’s win will also be a feather in its cap when the D-II district tournament draw takes place on Sunday, May 4.
“This is a good win to have,” McGrew said. “We have to send in records (Friday) and everybody knows how good of a team North Union is.”
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616 ext. 18, or via Twitter @MadPressSports.