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Ladybirds advance to championship game

By B.J. Hargis
Photo by B.J. HARGIS: North Central's Erika Shroyer tossed a three-hitter as the Ladybirds beat Shakamak 13-1 in the semifinals of the Class A Clay City softball sectional on Tuesday.

CLAY CITY — North Central exploded for 12 runs in the sixth inning as the Ladybirds defeated Shakamak 13-1 in the semifinals of the Class A Clay City softball sectional 57 on Tuesday. The game was halted after six innings via the 10-run rule.
This was a rematch of last year’s championship game when Shakamak edged the Ladybirds by one run in eight innings.
North Central (19-6) had defeated the Lady Lakers 1-0 a week earlier.
“Several of the girls talked about losing to Shakamak last year,” said North Central coach Erica Arnold. “It was something that had not been forgotten.”
Just like the game last week, the game was close throughout as North Central had scored a single run in the fourth inning and Shakamak answered with a run in the fifth, but left the bases loaded when winning pitcher Erika Shroyer retired the final two batters of the inning.
“The girls showed a lot of composure,” said Arnold. “Even though we finally got our bats going and scored 12 in the sixth, the biggest inning was when we got out of fifth with the score tied.
“Had they went ahead, who knows what would have happened.”
Shroyer tossed a three-hitter as the only run she allowed was unearned when the Ladybirds committed two errors in the fifth.
Shroyer finished with six strikeouts and one walk.
“Erika just gets the job done,” said Arnold. “No matter the situation, she always is under control and composed.”
North Central sent 16 batters to the plate in the sixth as they chased losing pitcher Jona Lash, coming up with nine hits in the inning. Lash had allowed just five hits in the loss last week.
“We had struggled with our hitting the last week of the regular season,” said Arnold. “But we made some adjustments in practice and they paid off tonight.”
Morgan Manning finished with two doubles and three hits overall. She knocked in two runs and scored two.
Jocelyn Cox also had two doubles and a single, two runs and three RBIs.
Shroyer helped her own cause with three hits, one run and one RBI. Hailey Salyer collected one hit, one run and one RBI. Madison Schofield was hit by a pitch twice and scored a run.
Hannah Simmons finished with two RBIs, Kaelee Moody had three hits and scored twice, Hannah Shroyer had a hit, two RBIs and one run scored and Brooklin Klitzing tallied one run, one hit and one RBI.
North Central plays Clay City at 6 p.m. tonight in the championship game. North Central scored three runs late in the first meeting to beat the Lady Eels 4-2 earlier this month.
“All the teams in our sectional and conference are competitive, no matter their record,” said Arnold. “We expect a very tough game.”

North Central            000 10(12) — 13 15 3
Shakamak                000 01    0 —   1   3 2
E. Shroyer and H. Shroyer; Lash, K. Gilbert (6) and Wise. W — E. Schroyer. L — Lash. 2B — K. Gilbert (S), Cox 2 (N), Manning 2 (N).

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