Friendship-Scio is all smiles after a state-semi final win to reach today’s state finals. Tricia Davenport photo. See her photo gallery below.
By JOHN ANDERSON
When you think of Friendship-Scio softball, one last name comes to mind, the Ross-Ross battery. Last season, the team lost in the state semi-final game and one person on the team sat and watched from the bench. She never got in a game all season and was a junior.
During the soccer season, Roberts tore her ACL and missed the rest of sports her junior year. On any team, to reach the state final four, you need a complete team. With Roberts back her senior year, Section V champion Friendship-Scio made the next step, defeated Section III champion Salem, 6-0 in the state semi-finals on Friday in Long Island.
Friendship-Scio (21-3) will face Section IV champion and defending state champion Deposit-Hancock (22-2) today at 11:30 a.m. Deposit-Hancock defeated Salem, 4-1 as Kaitlyn Macomber struck out 15.
Roberts made her presence known on offense and defense. She had two big hits and made several outstanding players at second.
“Last year when I tore my ACL during soccer .. it was very frustrating to see my team make it this far and not be able to help,” said Roberts. “We have the drive this year, we want it so badly. We really stepped it up defensively, our infield and outfield stepped up.
As for being in the state finals, Roberts said, ‘It feels weird, it doesn’t feel possible.”
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You knew it was the state final four when Section III champion Poland saw Friendship-Scio pitcher Nevaeh Ross a third time through the order.
With F-S holding a 6-0 lead with six outs to go, Poland started hitting Ross, who had no idea she needed a shutout for the state record in a season.
But did the defense ever play like they knew.
Bunts to third, line drives to second and right were all caught and plays were made as Friendship-Scio preserved the record shutout and advance to the state finals.
Ross struck out 12 in a two-hit shutout and did not walk a batter.
“We have the experience this year and Nevaeh has become stronger and more accurate with her pitching. Baserunning has improved and we’ve gotten better with our short game,” said Friendship-Scio coach Deb Warner. “We worked since January to improve our hitting.”
As for the defense late in the game, Warner said, “The defense really stepped up, they don’t usually see that many balls hit to them, so it was nice to see them perform the way they did, make the catches and shut the other team down like they are supposed to.”
With the win, Ross has 18 shutouts this season, a state record.
“I had no idea, my dad (assistant coach Darryl Ross) kept that secret from me for a long time, he didn’t want me thinking about it,” Ross said.
Ross had struck out 10 through five innings. But the Poland offense started putting the bat on the ball the last two innings.
“Our defense was amazing,” Ross said. “They stepped up for me and it felt good to know they had my back. I thought, ‘Just embrace that and keep it going.’ On offense, we had aggressive baserunning, put the ball in play, move people around. When you put the ball in play, teams have to make plays and teams can make errors.”
As for today’s state finals, Ross and Friendship-Scio lost, 7-2 last season to the defending state champions.
“It’s going to be back-and-forth battle, it’s going to be a tug-of-war,” she said. “It’s going to come down to small ball and whoever makes the first error.”
Junior Nevaeh Ross was 2-for-2 with a double, two runs and was walked twice, freshman Morghyn Ross was 2-for-3 with a double and two runs, senior Logan Roberts was 2-for-3 with a run, junior Nora Thompson had a hit and scored, Kiara Grover was 1-for-1 with a single and two sacrifice RBI’s while senior Kadence Donohue walked and had a big RBI to score Morghyn Ross. Freshman Avery Lamberson had two key sacrifices and a RBI while senior Katherine “Katie” Lamberson had a RBI.In the top of the fourth, Poland was picking up some momentum after Friendship-Scio left Grover on first with a lead-off single. In the bottom of the fourth, the first two batters tried to bunt and Ross and Katie Lamberson made great plays. A strikeout ended the inning
In the top of the fifth after a runner reached on a hit by pitch, Friendship-Scio’s Katie Lamberson made another great play on a bunt. The next batter tried to bunt and was hit in the shoulder, giving Poland runners on first and third with two outs. Ross then fielded a comebacker to end the threat.
In the sixth, a line drive caught by Logan Roberts at second base set the tone for the defense the rest of the game. Roberts caught another pop-up in shallow right and then Avery Lamberson made a nice running grab in left.
As for today, Warner said, “in the long run, we knew this was who we were going to face if we got this far and it should be a good game.”
Poland 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
Friendship-Scio 210 210 x — 6 8 0
Shelbi Hagues (5K, 2BB) and Morgan Weigand
Nevaeh Ross (12K) and Morgyn Ross
PHOTO GALLERY BY TRICIA DAVENPORT: