Clear Fork plays league-leading Mount Vernon twice this week
BELLVILLE — With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Clear Fork Lady Colts continue to build on a special season as they fight for a final Ohio Cardinal Conference softball championship.
“We’re 17-2 overall and 8-2 in the conference. We’re two games behind Mount Vernon. They haven’t lost in the conference and I think they are still undefeated,” said Clear Fork head coach Jeff Gottfried. “It makes Tuesday and Wednesday pretty big ball games when it comes to conference standings.”
The two teams square off this week, in what may determine the league title. On Tuesday, Mount Vernon comes to Bellville. The Lady Colts are in Mount Vernon on Wednesday.
The Lady Colts are coming off a week that saw them split a pair of games with Mansfield Madison.
Clear Fork could only muster three hits in the 5-4 loss in the first game against the Lady Rams, while committing four errors.
“The game we got beat was poorly played on both sides,” said Gottfried. “They didn’t play very good defense. We actually played a little bit worse than what they did and we ended up getting beat 5-4.”
The Lady Colts rebounded in the second game of the series behind the efforts of Darian Gottfried and Haylie Miller.
Gottfried allowed two earned runs over seven innings pitched, while Miller went 2 for 3 with a pair of home runs and three RBI in the win.
“We bounced back the next day at our place and played really well, beating them 8-2,” said Gottfried. “I think the right kids are hitting the ball, we are right where we need to be. We have a good test ahead of us and at this time of year, you want to have success, heading into tournament time.”
The league games with Madison were sandwiched by games against next season’s Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference foes, Galion and Marion Harding.
Both games were wins for the Lady Colts; 11-5 versus Galion and 13-4 against Marion Harding.
As the Lady Colts enter the season’s final stretch, coach Gottfried is confident in his squad.
“No real concerns about the team right now,” he said. “We played a really good team in Madison and ended up splitting with them.
“As a whole we are right where we need to be and want to be. We just hope to have a good week coming up.”
The injury bug which has plagued the Colts’ baseball team hasn’t caught up with the softball team.
“Everybody seems to be healthy,” Gottfried said. “We tried to rest Darian a little this week as far as pitching goes. She didn’t throw Monday against Galion and I didn’t throw her against Marion Harding. So she should be fresh and strong, ready to go next week.”
Gottfried is hesitant to attribute success to any individual player.
“I usually don’t put out any season stats to our kids until the season is over. I want them to stay focused on team first,” he explained.
Gottfried did however, laud the efforts of one player, although briefly.
“If you want to pinpoint one kid who’s been doing a lot for us, it’s our catcher, Haylie Miller. She’s only a sophomore, she’s got nine home runs on the year, she hit some big ones for us at the right times,” he said.
The coach quickly reverted to team first.
“Not that other kids haven’t contributed,’ he said. “It seems like every game, it’s somebody different doing their part. That’s the sign of a good team, when you’re not relying on just one kid.
“Our team strength has been our pitching and our defense. For the most part we’ve been playing solid defense. As a whole we’ve had production from all nine kids, whether it’s Darian pitching, Haylie catching or Zara Thomas playing defense at first or Macy Wade doing her thing at third base. I like where we’re at as a team.”
State softball tournament pairings will be announced later today.
In addition to the crucial series with Mt Vernon on May 2 and 3, the Lady Colts host Fredericktown on May 1, travel to Highland on May 4 and host Northmor in a doubleheader on May 6.