Brock Netter, Staff Writer
Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.
CHILLICOTHE — Crooksville couldn’t reach base while facing Portsmouth West pitcher Sydney McDermott, and it couldn’t contain Macie Bradford at the dish.
That duo was locked in from the minute it arrived at Wednesday’s Division III regional semifinal, and put simply, it was the catalyst in a win over the Ceramics.
McDermott fired 18 strikeouts while Bradford had four RBIs, leading the Senators to a decisive 7-0 victory to help the team reach the Elite 8.
“We’ve watched so much footage on [Crooksville], like we do every game,” West coach Dani Coleman said. “We knew what [Crooksville’s pitcher] threw and we knew her tendencies. We really worked hard on our days off to get that. We had a couple of innings where we were anxious but we got back into it and did what we do.”
West (26-2) was all business to open the game and set the tone for the day. After McDermott struck out the side to open things up, her teammates offered run support.
With two runners on, Kate Rollins notched an RBI groundout and Kaylor Pickelsimer followed with an RBI single to make it 2-0.
Pickelsimer scored on a passed ball two at-bats later, then Bradford ripped an RBI double into right-center field that pushed the lead to 4-0.
“[Bradford] has been working all season,” Coleman said. “She’s just a freshman but she’s got a great eye and she really works on her mental mindset. It’s come a long way and that makes all the difference. She goes all out every time she plays.”
McDermott continued to deal in the circle, piling up eight strikeouts in the opening three innings — including six straight to open the game.
While she did her thing, the Senators weren’t slowing on the offensive side either.
Bradford lined a two-run single into center field in the third, and then added another RBI double in the fifth to put the finishing touches on a masterpiece.
“It’s all heart and soul with this team,” Coleman said. “They don’t want their season to end. We talked about striking first tonight. We wanted to do that to kind of break [Crooksville’s] backs. That was our mindset and that’s what they did. The girls’ bats were really nice today.”
Bradford finished 3-for-3 with two doubles and four RBIs at the dish, followed by Rollins and Pickelsimer each going 1-for-3 with an RBI.
West advances to a Division III regional final, where the Senators will meet with SOC II rival Wheelersburg for a third time this season.
The Pirates won each of the previous two meetings by 9-5 and 6-3 counts.
“We’ve been here before and it really means a lot to bring West back to this level,” Coleman said. “We know what we’re going up against and we know it’s going to be tough. Our girls understand it and they have a lot invested it. I feel like we’ll play our best game.”