By SHANNON DOVE
For The Courier
ASHLAND — Elwmood’s softball team found itself in a familiar place Thursday evening: at Brookside Park in Ashland, playing in the Division III regional semifinal.
And the Royals’ veterans knew exactly what to do.
Emily Reynolds had a solo home run among her three hits and Marissa Lee threw a four-hit shutout as the Royals beat Martins Ferry 4-0.
Elmwood (20-9) advances to the regional final Saturday to face Archbold (24-4) at noon at Brookside Park. Martins Ferry finishes its season at 15-9.
“This field is kind of a second home to us,” Royals coach Matt Hoiles said. “A lot of these girls were on the state team in 2008, so they’ve played here before. We love this place. I love coming here, the surroundings. Just this whole atmosphere here is awesome and the girls love to play here also.”
Reynolds kick-started the Royals’ offense with a solo home run to left center in the top of the fourth inning to put Elmwood ahead 1-0. The first-pitch homer looked very much like her first-inning double that bounced off the fence in straight-away center.
“When I got up there the first time you could just really see the ball coming out of her hand really well,” Reynolds said. “I guess I was just in my groove today and once I saw it the first time, I knew I was going to have a good day.”
Stephanie Barringer led off the Elmwood fifth with a double to the fence in left center. Sierra Beckford reached first when Purple Rider shortstop Sis Fronapfel dropped a soft line drive; the Royals then uncorked consecutive hits to bring in three runs.
Brittany George brought home Barringer and Beckford with a triple into the right field corner and Morgan Arnold drove George in with a single to left field.
“This whole team, it’s hard to pitch around anybody in this lineup,” Hoiles said. “When you have an 8-hole hitter that gets two doubles that has the power to hit it out, who do you pitch around? That’s the beauty of this team.
“That’s kind of our team,” Reynolds said. “Once one of us starts hitting, the rest of us start hitting. That’s how its been going lately. Even the bottom of the lineup picks the top of the lineup up sometimes. Once one person starts getting hits, the rest of the team follows.”
Meanwhile, Lee was doing her part to keep Martins Ferry off the base paths, retiring the side in order in the first and fourth innings. Lee had five stikeouts in the first two innings.
Lee give up one-out singles in second, fifth and sixth innings, but cather Arnold nailed three Martins Ferry baserunners. Arnold picked off a runner in the second and threw out Taylor Campbell and Shayla Outward trying to steal.
“In the news articles that we’d read on the Internet, we’d seen that they like to run, that they like to be aggressive,” Hoiles said. “I thought that with the defense that we have, that’s going to feed into us. We’ve got strong arms and we’re ready for stuff like that.”
Lee struck out seven and raised her record to 19-5.
Elmwood 000 130 0 — 4 10 0
Martins Ferry 000 000 0 — 0 4 2
WP — Lee (19-5). LP — Delguzzo (15-9). top hitters: (Elm) Reynolds HR, 2B, 1B, RBI; B. George 3B, 2-RBI; Barringer 2-1B; Arnold 1B, RBI. (MF) Delguzzo 1B; Campbell 1B; Studler 1B; Clark 1B.
records: Elmwood 20-9, Martins Ferry 15-9.