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Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

Unioto stifles Indian Valley’s offense, heads into regional championship matchup

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

PHILO — For the first time in program history, Unioto is one win away from the state tournament.

Unioto’s Alexis Book hits during the Shermans’ win over Hillsboro in the team’s Division II district championship last week.
CREDIT: Brock Netter/SOSA

The Shermans (24-3) made a near two-hour trip to Philo High School on Wednesday and returned to Chillicothe with a 4-3 victory over Gnadenhutten Indian Valley.

“This win is very special. These ladies have earned every bit of the success we have had this year,” Unioto coach Rob Hull said. “All the hard work they have put in is showing with our play on the field. It’s a huge win for our program. To see all the support from our fans is unbelievable. We have some of the best fans around. They were very loud tonight.”

The Braves (22-5) broke the scoring seal in the bottom of the second inning, drawing a bases-loaded walk for a 1-0 lead.

However, Unioto quickly answered with a run of its own in the top of the third.

Junior catcher Abbie Marshall responded by ripping a pitch into left field, bringing Alexis Book around to score for a 1-1 deadlock.

“It was just a rocket to right-center, scoring Book after [Morgan] Daniels’ sacrifice bunt moved Book to second,” Hull said. “Book led off that inning with a laser to right-center. After scoring, it gave us the confidence at the plate. All season long, we haven’t wavered when being down. This team has a ton of fight in them. We fight every pitch, every play, and always keep the confidence.”

Book then broke things open in top of the fourth. The Ohio University-commit roped a two-run single into the outfield grass before another RBI single form Marshall made it a 4-1 tally.

That three-run lead was more than enough support for Hannah Hull in the circle.

The junior continued to hang zeroes on the scoreboard while her defense made several spectacular plays behind her.

“Hannah is an absolute bulldog on the mound … our workhorse,” Hull said. “She’s pitching with a lot of confidence and wants to be in the circle every game. She’s worked extremely hard to get where she’s at. She hits her spots, has great spin, and has the confidence in her defense behind her.”

Hull did run into trouble in the seventh.

Indian Valley’s first two hitters reached on a dropped third strike and a walk. A one-out double then plated both runners, cutting the lead to 4-3.

Unioto coach Rob Hull discusses strategy with Hannah Hull during the Tanks’ win over Hillsboro last week.
CREDIT: Brock Netter/SOSA

However, Hull never lost her composure.

She struck out the next batter with three pitches before inducing a fly out to preserve a historic win.

“She really closed the door on them in the seventh for the win,” Hull said. “The final two at-bats were all her. She went through the heart of their order with the tying run on third, striking out one, and getting the other into an 0-2 count so she could go to work. I’m extremely proud of her.”

Marshall ended the day 2-for-4 at the dish with two RBIs while Book was 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Megan Miller also helped out, going 3-for-4, Emma Specht was 2-for-2 with a run, and Amaris Betts finished 1-for-3 with a run scored.

“I told the girls today we have to focus small, and when [Indian Valley’s pitchers] hit the zone, you drive it and make them pay,” Hull said. “We’re a good hitting team, and when we get a leadoff laser by Book or rocket shots from Marshall against good pitching, that sets the tone for our offense. We roll off of that. It’s hard to contain us when we get runners on base with the way we hit the ball. To put up 12 hits against solid pitching like that shows the confidence everyone has.”

Hull went the distance in the circle, allowing an earned run on three hits and striking out a trio of Braves.

Unioto advances to meet with Steubenville in a Division II regional final at noon, Saturday at Philo.

“We will play in Akron at Firestone,” Hull said. “We have to go in with the same confidence we’ve been playing with. Stay relaxed, play together, communicate, and continue to play with a chip on our shoulder. We set our goals as a team at the start and we’re pushing to get there. We understand we have a tough matchup. Every game from here on out is. But if we continue to play together and for each other, we can achieve our goals.”


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