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Late night Warriors win again

AKRON — For the second time since 2018 the West Branch girls softball team will be playing for a Division II regional championship.

The Warriors blew a close game open with a nine-run sixth inning en route to an 12-2 regional semifinal rout of Revere in six innings at rainy Firestone Stadium in Akron late Wednesday night.

“The confidence, you know they never got down, they kept saying we can hit her (Revere pitcher Shannon Appel) and we started hitting her (in the sixth inning),” said West Branch head coach Sis Woods.

The loss snapped a 16-game Revere winning streak as the Minutemen bow out with a 22-5 record. Revere finished runner-up in the Suburban League this season to Aurora, who West Branch bested 5-3 in the district semifinals.

The win vaults West Branch (24-8) into Saturday’s DII regional title game against Wooster Triway at 1 p.m. at Firestone Stadium. Triway advanced with a 10-7 win over Marlington earlier Wednesday.

“It feels great (to be back in the regional final),” stated Woods. “We’re going to enjoy this one tonight and go back to practice tomorrow (preparing for Triway). We have to be patient and play our game — that’s what we’ve said all year. If we play our game we can play with anybody.”

Senior Jaci Thomas had a three-run home run and Jordan Anderson added a solo blast during West Branch’s big nine-run sixth inning.

“As soon as I made contact, I said that feels great,” said Thomas of her home run. “My freshman year we went to state and that (getting back to state) is our goal with this being our last year.”

The Warriors had 10 hits in the game as Anderson had four of them, including a single, two doubles and a home run, while and Ryley Pittman two doubles, including a three-run two-bagger, Thomas had a three-run home run and adding singles were Destany Blake, Sam Morris and Tori McKay.

“She (Thomas) is our No. 9 hitter and that’s her second home run of the season and the second one of her career,” lauded Woods. “That was great. I knew it was out.”

Anderson, bound for George Mason University, was the winning pitcher for West Branch. She worked all six innings. She struck out seven and walked one in throwing a four-hitter.

After neither team scored in the first inning, West Branch got on the board first in the bottom of the second frame. Ryley Pittman ripped a double over the center fielder’s head to open the frame. Tori McKay and Jordan Anderson walked, loading the bases. Warrior Destany Blake then drew a free pass as West Branch took a 1-0 lead.

Revere came back to take a 2-1 in the top of the fourth on a two-run home run over the left field fence by pitcher Shannon Appel.

But West Branch took the lead right back in the bottom half of the fourth. Appel, who had control challenges, walked McKay and Madison Rhome to start the inning and Jordan Anderson stepped to the plate and ripped a double to the left field fence, plating both runners and giving the Warriors a 3-2 advantage.

Rain started in the top of the fifth and both pitchers had to battle in the elements.

“She (Anderson) was getting frustrated with it (the rain) but she pitched through it,” said Woods.

Anderson skillfully worked out of a two on, one-out jam in the top of the sixth inning by getting a ground ball out and foul out to first to escape the jam.

West Branch had no errors in the game, despite playing some of the game in the rain.

“That’s big, we’ve said we have to do the things fundamentally,” praised Woods.

West Branch then left no doubt in the bottom of the sixth when it exploded for nine runs in the frame on seven hits, including two home runs.

Jaci Thomas walked, Anderson sent a double to the center field wall and Destany Blake had an infield bunt single to load the bases. Skyler Greeneisen was hit by a pitch, forcing in a run and making it 4-2. Sam Morris then connected on a bloop single over the shortstop for an RBI single, making it 5-2. Ryley Pittman then scorched a three-run double in the gap to left center and giving the Warriors an 8-2 lead.

Jaci Thomas then stepped to the dish and launched a pitch high and deep over the corner of the left field fence for a three-run home run and an 11-2 West Branch lead.

“Once one person is hitting it just builds off of that and everyone keeps hitting,” said Thomas.

Jordan Anderson then closed the deal with a home run to right, ending the game via the 10-run mercy rule at 12-2.

“Jordan (Anderson) leads us in home runs and Rylie (Pittman) hit very well,” closed Woods.

Game notes

• Five of the players on the Warriors’ 2021 roster, including three starters, were freshmen on the 2018 Warrior squad which won the regional title at Firestone Park. That team advanced all the way to the state title game before falling to state champion Lagrange Keystone by one run in extra innings.

• The three starters playing on the 2018 team were then outfielder Jordan Anderson, second baseman Destany Blake and catcher Sam Morris.

• It’s believed that Wednesday’s West Branch-Revere matchup was the first time the schools have ever met in any team sport. Interestingly, West Branch and Revere are scheduled to play in varsity football this fall in Beloit on Sept. 3 (Week 3 of the football season).

REV: 0-0-0-2-0-0-x–2-4-3

WB: 0-1-0 -2-0-9-0–12-10-0

WB — Jordan Anderson wp (6IP, 4H, 7K, 1BB) and Sam Morris.

REV — Shannon Appel lp (5IP, 10H, 5K, 6BB) and Ashley Ellie.

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