Your Prep Sports
OXFORD – There was no need for a miracle finish this time.
One year after the Clear Creek Amana softball team needed a six-run rally in the 11th inning to stun Marion and reach the state tournament, the Class 4A seventh-ranked Clippers welcomed the Wolves back to McAreavy Field for another postseason tilt.
With junior hurler Ashley Webb in the circle for Clear Creek Amana, one had to figure this year’s matchup would fall well short of the 21 combined runs scored in the 2021 classic.
“We definitely knew going into it that they were a great-hitting team,” Webb said after the Clippers outlasted the Wolves, 3-1, Saturday in a regional semifinal. “And they have already seen me quite a lot, especially with the 11-inning game last year. So my main goal was just to hit spots as much as I could. My defense behind me always has my back.”
Webb scattered seven hits in her complete-game effort with three walks (two intentional) and seven strikeouts.
While Marion had base runners in all but two innings, one of Webb’s 1-2-3 frames arrived in the seventh, effectively shutting down any Marion hopes for a comeback of its own.
“We talked to her,” Clear Creek Amana coach Jodie Scheetz said. “We get up in the count, we have just got to hit our spots and make sure we are throwing what we need to be throwing and she did a nice job. They hit the ball well. We were worried about that coming in.”
With the Clippers trailing, 1-0, seniors Emma Mathis and Bailey Olerich delivered an impassioned plea in the dugout to get the Clippers’ offense going in the bottom of the fourth inning and their teammates heeded the call.
A one-out double by sophomore Aeslyn Massey sent a jolt through the CCA dugout and kickstarted the decisive frame.
“I knew I was in the situation, we were down one,” Massey said. “I knew I had to do something. I hit the first pitch and it was high inside. The dugout went crazy. I know that helps me a lot and I know it helps everyone else, too.”
Massey scored the tying run on a throw to second from the Marion catcher that skipped into the outfield.
After junior Olivia Miller walked and eighth-grader Brenna Williams reached base on a fielder’s choice, Webb stepped to the plate with two on and one out.
Her grounder to the Marion shortstop forced out Williams, but the throw to first got by the first baseman and Miller sprinted home with the go-ahead run.
“We definitely try to just cut that ball in half and try and get as much as we can out of it,” Webb said. “And our slappers try to get the ball down or try to get it in those gaps. Just finding those gaps and finding those errors and forcing them to make those errors.”
With Clear Creek Amana courtesy runner Maycin Ernst on second base, junior Avery Allan generated a valuable insurance run with a single that brought Ernst home.
“Jodie always tell us to have game plans, and my game plan was to get on top of the ball,” Allan said. “And just have a good, hard hit. She always says to get the ball on the ground and it will go through.”
After the three-run fourth inning, Webb retired nine of the final 12 batters to deliver the Clippers to the regional final, which will be back in Oxford on Tuesday against Burlington (19-13).
Win there, and CCA will be back in the state tournament for the second year in a row and the state-best 36th time overall.
“To not get cocky about it,” Massey said. “To know that we have to come out and play the same. Not to think that we are good enough to stop trying and playing hard and just keep going.”
Marion 001 000 0 – 1
Clear Creek Amana 000 300 x – 3
W – Ashley Webb L – Haley Slaymaker