Mohawks ready to take next step in regional

Madison coach Joe Amstutz said his Mohawks (20-8) are ready to compete for a spot in the Elite Eight.

Williamsburg (24-3) stands in their way as the teams meet at 5 p.m. on Thursday in a Division III regional semifinal at Wright State University.

“Last year when we lost in the district finals, it was our goal to get past districts and get into regionals,” Amstutz said. “Now that we are there, it’s not good enough just to get there. We have to get there and compete and hopefully keep this going.”

The Mohawks advanced with a 15-7 win over West Liberty-Salem, the team that beat them in their last regional semifinal appearance in 2010. Madison lost to Brookville 3-0 in the district finals last year and fell to Miami East 2-0 in the 2013 district final.

Amstutz said the difference this year, especially of late, is better offense.

“When we are on and hitting, I don’t feel there is any team that can hit with us,” Amstutz said. “From top to bottom we have some great hitters. If they perform to their ability and capability, they can put on a show.”

The Mohawks have five players batting over .400, led by Natalie Higgins (.592), Joey Brinegar (.517) and Bekah Lenos (.511). Jordan Lykins and Shelby Robinson also are hitting .400 or better, and as a team Madison is hitting .387.

Madison will face a tough pitcher Thursday, though. Williamsburg sophomore Kasey Smith hasn’t allowed an earned run in 74 innings this season, and freshman Carly Wagers, the No. 2, is 11-2 with a 1.05 ERA over 80 innings.

“Nothing against their pitchers, but I have confidence in my hitters,” Amstutz said. “We just have to pick our spots and find holes in their defense.”

Smith has pitched all four postseason games, and she is likely to start agasint Madison. Wagers, who plays center field when not pitching, leads Williamsburg at the plate with a .453 average.

Madison has three pitchers who are all capable of going in the regional semifinals, Amstutz said. Taylor Phelps has the most work, going 8-4 with a 3.08 ERA over 77.1 innings, while Kenzie Oney (6-3, 3.73 ERA) and Lexi Carpenter (6-1, 2.74 ERA) have tossed 62 and 38.1 innings, respectively.

Williamsburg coach Rick Healey said his Wildcats will be ready, regardless. He likes the way his team has played while outscoring its four postseason opponents 42-0.

“Watching them play Saturday, they are a good, fundamentally sound team, like every team at this stage should be,” Healey said of Madison. “From what I saw, they are well-coached. We have to come with our ‘A’ game and play hard, but we’re ready.”

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