The Jonathan Alder High School softball team is ranked No. 2 in the latest Division II state poll.
But the Lady Pioneers (16-3) aren’t even the top seed in the Central District, Lakewood stakes claim to the No. 1 spot in both the state poll and the upcoming D-II Central District tournament.
The No. 2 Pioneers do have a first-round bye and will host either No. 14 Bexley or No. 16 Marion Franklin on Thursday, May 12 in their postseason opener. Alder is in the opposite bracket from No. 1 Lakewood and conceivably wouldn’t run into the Lancers until the state championship game if both teams were to make it that far.
The D-II district which Alder is competing figures to pose its own set of problems, with the likes of No. 3 seed Granville, a squad that topped Alder in the district final last year, and No. 5 Bishop Hartley both being in the same bracket. The good thing for the Pioneers is they would only meet one of those squads and it wouldn’t be until a district final. Fellow Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Red Division foe Buckeye Valley, the sixth seed, could be a district semifinal opponent.
“We knew going in everyone would stay away from Lakewood,” Alder coach Dave McGrew said. “I liked making our decision, a lot better than the teams that went after us.”
The remaining teams had to decide whether or not to go into the bracket with Lakewood, a team that has been dominant this season, or go into a bracket with Alder, a team playing as well as any in the state.
The decision for No. 3 Granville was easy, the Blue Aces were just run-ruled by the Lancers last week, so choosing the district with Alder was a no-brainer. The biggest question mark would be whether No. 4 River Valley, a member of the MOAC Red Division would want to come into the same bracket as the Pioneers knowing the two teams still have a game to play to determine the league title. River Valley opted for the bracket with Lakewood.
“That decision by River Valley to go up toward Lakewood really made it easier for teams like Hartley and Buckeye Valley,” McGrew said.
Alder swept its contests with Buckeye Valley this year as well as earned a win over Hartley.
The Lady Pioneers head into the final week of the regular season with a well-rounded and prepared squad. McGrew said his top players averages are down a bit, but the lineup boasts nine batter with averages between .395-.450.
“They’re all playing well and working toward one goal,” the coach said.
London (6-12) is the 12th seed and will open the D-II tournament at home against No. 17 Columbus West Tuesday, May 10. The winner of the first-round game will advance to play at No. 9 seed Bloom-Carroll on May 12. A pair of postseason wins could net London a spot in the D-II district semifinal against No. 1 Lakewood.
Cardington-Lincoln is the district’s top seed in D-III, but Madison County sports fans will have their eye on a potential all-county clash in the second round.
West Jefferson (12-5) was selected the No. 6 seed in D-III and the Roughriders took a first-round bye. They will face the winner between No. 7 Madison-Plains (13-5) and No. 17 Marion Pleasant on May 12. Plains and Pleasant are scheduled to meet on Tuesday, May 10 at Madison-Plains.
West Jeff won the first matchup between the two county schools earlier this season, they were scheduled to play for the second time on Monday, May 2.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.
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