High School softball: Beavercreek advances past Western Brown, one win away from state final four

CENTERVILLE – Alyssa Lewis walked with purpose to the batter’s box in the seventh inning of Thursday’s Division I softball regional semifinal and reminded herself not to dip her back shoulder again.

No more popups. Not with the score tied and Shelby Metzger at second base.

“I knew anything on the ground or a line drive or a gap shot, Shelby was going to score,” Lewis said. “I was looking for an inside pitch or anything I could drive to get Shelby in.”

Lewis singled up the middle and Metzger, who reached base on a one-out double, slid across home plate well ahead of the throw, and the Beavers led by a run. A throwing error to the plate let in another run for a two-run lead.

But there was work to do for Beavers pitcher Haley Ferguson, who struck out six, and the defense behind her against a hard-hitting Western Brown lineup. The Broncos had already knocked off top-seeded and unbeaten GWOC champion Miamisburg last week. A two-out home run, the 22nd of the season for Peyton Young, cut the Beavers’ lead to one.

After a walk, Kyla Conley smashed a line drive to right center that Beavers right fielder Ashley Norris ran down. If it had gotten past her, the game would have been tied. Instead, the Beavers had a 5-4 victory and rushed to the outfield to celebrate with Norris.

“First thought in my mind was, ‘Oh, wow, we really just gave up a hit,’” Lewis said. “But I know, if there’s a chance, she’ll make the throw in, and we’ll get her out at the plate. And when we saw her catch it, I lost it and I started crying.”

Tears are an appropriate reaction when your program wins its first regional game since it’s only regional championship in 1983 and is playing in its first regional since 1992.

“We’re really good at coming from behind, we’re really good at being in that clutch moment and taking it pitch by pitch and trying to simplify the game,” said second-year head coach Megan Barrett. “We just played our game.”

Next for the Beavers is the regional final at noon Saturday at Centerville against Barrett’s alma mater Lakota West. The Firebirds are still coached by Barrett’s high school coach, Keith Castner, and are ranked No. 1 in the state coaches’ poll.

“Coach Castner always instilled passion and competitive drive in me,” Barrett said. “And I know that’s what he values, so I think it will be really good to see us be competitive on the field.”

The Beavers (25-4) fell behind 3-0 in the third inning Thursday on a two-run homer by McKenna Conley. Their comeback started with Paige Weekley’s solo homer in the fifth.

“That was a huge momentum change,” Barrett said. “She’s done that before for us this season.”

An overthrow from the outfield allowed a second run to score, and Metzger tied the score with single to center.

The comeback was also aided by a loud dugout, mostly at the urging of Lewis, the Beavers’ senior shortstop.

“I was always raised by my parents just to be loud even when things aren’t going you way and in your favor,” she said. “The two things you can control are your attitude and effort. And if you keep your attitude and effort up, no one’s going to stop you. So keeping the girls up in the dugout and seeing the pitcher rattled after Paige’s home run really just pushed everyone to say, ‘Let’s go. We gotta get up.’”

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