The Jonathan Alder softball team will play for a spot in the Division II state Final Four Saturday, May 27.
Not even the most positive, forward thinking and optimistic Pioneers fans could have imagined this, not after Alder opened the season having to replace seven seniors and doing so with a large collection of freshmen.
“Are you kidding me, that’s become my new line,” Alder coach Dave McGrew said. “We’re young, inexperienced and not very deep, but we’ve really made an effort to getting back to doing what we do.
“We’re back to teaching and it’s been a lot of fun. This group has exceeded my expectations. We knew we had good pieces. We had a catcher, a pitcher and couple kids who played key roles for us, but we also had a bunch of freshmen. Talented freshmen but you never know.”
Alder (22-4) will tangle with Greenville (28-3) Saturday in a game that will be played back at Mason High School starting at noon. The winner will advance to a state semifinal in Akron the following week.
The Lady Wave program is one of the best softball programs in the state, one with a lot of tradition and one McGrew expects to be a handful Saturday.
“It’s a storied program with very good players,” he said. “Their pitcher is a little slower but she has a lot of good movement and a good change-up. They’re a team that hits the ball well and hits with power. We’ve got what we think is a good game plan and we’re ready to go.”
Greenville topped Clinton-Massie 14-4 in its regional semifinal, while Alder knocked out Springfield Shawnee 11-2.
Alder has been red hot with the bats and will likely need that against one of the best hitting teams in the state.
“Our top six girls have been on fire and the bottom of our lineup has been really good lately,” McGrew said. “We don’t have a deep bench, but you don’t always see the same lineup with us or the same kids hitting in the same situations. We’re always changing things up.”
The biggest key to the game will be how Alder junior pitcher Katelyn Perkins handles the potent Greenville attack. The Lady Wave have had tremendous success the more they see a pitcher. In the win over Clinton-Massie they really hit the ball well later in the game.
Alder has played and beaten top teams this season, including a win over D-I North Canton Hoover and a scrimmage victory over D-I Gahanna Lincoln, both of those teams are playing for regional crowns this weekend.
“I’m don’t worry about this bunch,” the coach said. “I used up my worry quota in week three. This is just a younger group that’s different. Things don’t bother them. They don’t let things get to them, they’ll be ready to go on Saturday.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.