Division IV State Softball Championship
Teams: Danville (29-2) vs. Williamsburg (28-2).
Site: Firestone Stadium, Akron
When: Today, 1 p.m.
Television: Spectrum Sports Channel, Sunday, 3 p.m. (tape delay).
AKRON — After her team’s state semifinal victory, Danville head softball coach Jill Lyons was asked if her team had such high expectations, and if they were “really that good.”
“We set these high expectations at the start of the season,” Lyons said. “Yeah, we thought we’d be here.”
The Blue Devils’ final goal has been a state championship since the season began over two months ago. Today, they’ll get a rare chance to achieve that goal when they face Williamsburg in the OHSAA Division IV State Championship Game in Akron.
It’s only fitting that the Blue Devils (29-2) play today’s game at Firestone Stadium. They’ve been on fire since the tournament began.
Danville has outscored its seven opponents, 86-2. The Devils have hit nine home runs and given up one. Their collective batting average in the seven games is somewhere near .500.
On the other side, they’ve committed two errors, and pitcher Shanna Mickley is working with a 0.49 ERA. That’s only slightly better than her 0.78 ERA over the course of the season.
Danville became the first Division IV team in 10 years to win a state semifinal by mercy rule when the team defeated Mid-Buckeye Conference rival Lucas, 11-0, on Thursday.
Williamsburg (28-2) is a virtual mirror image of Danville in a lot of ways. The Wildcats lost just two games to much bigger schools. Like the Devils, the Wildcats have rolled through the postseason, outscoring their opponents, 76-2. Even the towns are similar: Williamsburg boasts a population of 2,470, just above Danville at 1,044.
The Wildcats have never been this far in the tournament. Danville has — just once, in 2008, when the Devils won the school’s only state championship.
Williamsburg rolls behind its one-two tandem of pitchers, Kacey Smith and Carly Wagers. Smith, a righty, and Wagers, a southpaw, each have ERAs under 0.64. Smith relies primarily on her fastball, while Wagers like to mix it up with curves, sliders and screwballs. Wagers threw a no-hitter in the regional finals against Franklin-Monroe.
It remains to be seen, however, if the powerful one-two punch has faced hitters like the Blue Devils. Eight of the nine batters in the Danville starting lineup are hitting .350 or better, with two pushing .500 (McKinley Alberts at .495 and Kaitlynn Briggs at .490). Leadoff hitter Jordan Elliott has hit .750 with three doubles since the regional finals.
“One through nine, we have the ability to hit,” Lyons said. “They have all stepped up individually.”
The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.