South Webster softball
Brock Netter

Brock Netter

Brock is SOSA's primary writer and has worked for the Coshocton Tribune, the Kankakee Daily Journal (Ill.) and the Vinton-Jackson Courier. He's a two-time award-winning journalist, a lifelong WWE fan, a suffering Bengals fan and calls the sidelines his home.

South Webster jumps on Waterford, cruises to first district championship since 2002

The Jeeps will now meet with Strasburg-Franklin in a Division IV regional semifinal.

Brock Netter, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

RIO GRANDE — The calendar sports year for South Webster’s girls was already a banner year before Saturday.

South Webster’s Bri Claxon celebrates with her teammates during Saturday’s win over Waterford. Claxon was 4-for-4 and hit for the cycle.
CREDIT: Brock Netter/SOSA

The Jeeps’ volleyball team made an incredible run to the Final Four just before the girls basketball squad made a memorable trek to a district final appearance.

Saturday, however, belonged to the softball program and the Jeeps didn’t waste an opportunity to carry on the pattern.

South Webster scored fast, early and often as it routed Waterford 18-2 in a Division IV district final, winning the program’s first district championship since 2002.

“We exceeded our own expectations. I expected this to be a really tough game since Waterford throws a lot of off-speed pitches. But we were well prepared,” South Webster coach Andy Messer said. “The girls made the adjustments very well and never stopped throughout the game. We felt we should have won this game last season, but we ran right into Notre Dame. 20 years is a long time, but this district title is incredible and I’m so happy for these girls.”

On top of the district title, Bri Claxon put on a show at the dish.

She had five at-bats on the evening, and brought the punishment. After walking in her first plate appearance, the show began.

She had a triple, single and a double before sending a moonshot over the left center field to complete the cycle for the afternoon.

Overall, the senior shortstop finished 4-for-4 with five RBIs.

“Bri sets the tone for us and what a game she had,” Messer said. “Once she’s on, we know she’s going to score and she did that all game long. It’s hard to get her out and her teammates behind her do an excellent job over driving her across the plate.”

The Jeeps didn’t record their first hit of the game until deep into their lineup.

Claxon led off with a walk, and then scored during the next at-bat courtesy of three passed balls to give the Jeeps a 1-0 lead. Skylar Zimmerman also walked, then scored on a fielding error. That was followed by a perfectly executed double steal to score another run for a 3-0 advantage right out of the gates.

“Having those early runs let’s me just relax and throw my game,” South Webster pitcher Rylee McGraw said. “There’s no stress since we have a lead and I know my team is behind me defensively and will make the plays.”

PHOTOS: Images from South Webster’s win over Waterford

The Jeeps went on to score seven runs in each the second and third innings before the final run from Claxon’s bat — a solo home run that cemented the cycle for the senior — put the finishing touches on a one-sided victory.

“She just threw me a pitch down the middle, but slightly inside. But I knew I had to wait a little longer before swinging,” Claxon said. “I took a big load up, swung the bat and it felt really good the whole way. I looked up and everyone was cheering so I guess I hit it out.”

Claxon ended the day 4-for-4, hitting for the cycle, alongside four runs and five RBIs. Meanwhile, Bella Claxon was 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs, followed by Zimmerman going 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs. Ava Messer also helped out, going 3-for-4, while Lauren Kaltenbach was 2-for-3 with three runs.

McGraw earned the win in the circle, tossing a complete game, allowing four hits and striking out a pair of batters. She also went 3-for-4 at the dish with a double, two runs and three RBIs.

South Webster advances to play in a Division IV regional semifinal — the team’s first in 20 years — at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at Pickerington Central High School. The Jeeps’ opponent will be Strasburg-Franklin, a 5-1 winner over Conotton Valley on Thursday.

“I’m just excited for us to have this opportunity to play at this level,” Claxon said. “We’ve been to a Sweet 16 before in other sports, so we know what it’s like. But not in softball. We have a lot of talent on our team, and I’m excited for Rylee to get the chance to show her talent pitching and for the rest of us to just play the game.”


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