Late burst heartens Rams, but Clinton-Massie rolls to district title

Clinton-Massie’s Kendall Anderson is tagged out by Ross catcher Whitley Arno during their Division II district final Friday at Mason. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Clinton-Massie’s Kendall Anderson is tagged out by Ross catcher Whitley Arno during their Division II district final Friday at Mason. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

A late rally gave some season-ending comfort to Ross High School’s softball team Friday afternoon.

The Rams tallied five two-out runs in the top of the fifth inning in a Division II district final against Clinton-Massie, though the surge wasn’t nearly enough to extend their 2017 campaign.

The Falcons romped to their first district championship in run-rule fashion, celebrating a 20-5 victory at Mason.

PHOTOS: Nick Graham’s gallery from the game

“I’m so glad we scored. Five runs isn’t much, but it’s better than 20-0,” Ross senior left fielder Lauryn Emenaker said. “Nobody expected us to get this far, but I’m going to remember this team forever. It’s a great group of girls. They made me laugh at every practice.”

The squad's other senior, first baseman Ally Ivey, is headed to Loyola (Ill.) University to continue her softball career. She's hopeful that it rivals her Ramball experience.

“I’ve played some good softball and this is good softball, but this is more like family softball,” Ivey said. “They’re like sisters. I remember last year there were people screaming on the sides of the roads when we were coming home from districts and regionals. It’s just a family atmosphere. I’m going to miss seeing them every day.”

Ivey launched a two-run double during Ross’ offensive outburst. Maddy Foster also had an RBI, and two runs were recorded on errors.

Clinton-Massie’s softball team celebrates its first Division II district championship as Ross coach Anna Winters heads for the dugout Friday at Mason. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Clinton-Massie’s softball team celebrates its first Division II district championship as Ross coach Anna Winters heads for the dugout Friday at Mason. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The Rams, state semifinalists in 2016, finished 14-10 in Anna Winters’ first season at the helm.

“A lot of teams would just give up when they’re down 20-0, but our team pushed through and scored five runs, so I think that says something about the girls,” Winters said. “We had a rocky start this year, but towards the end of the sason, we found our groove. We were really hitting the ball hard and making defensive plays.

“I was really lucky because I had a great group of girls that stuck with me and Rachel (Patton). Our record may not have been as good as what we wanted it to be, but I think the girls learned a lot. I think we had a lot of fun this year and made a lot of memories.”

Ross looked overmatched from the outset. The Falcons led 3-0 after two innings, then put up 12 runs in the third.

No. 9 hitter Ashlie Miller was 4-for-4 with a triple and six RBIs, while Victoria Sivert was 3-for-4 with a triple and drove in four runs.

Massie (27-1) was very motivated with the Rams in the house. Ross beat the Falcons 4-0 at this level last year when Kaitlyn Justice delivered a seventh-inning grand slam.

“Our hope was that we were going to see Ross again,” Massie coach Anthony Lauer said. “It was just that whole atmosphere, that environment, and the way that we lost that game last year.

“We gave up some at the end, but I think a little bit of that was emotions. From top to bottom, when we came out in the first inning, I think we kind of made our statement. We made it with Monroe the other day, and we continued it today.”

Taylor Florea tossed a five-hitter with five strikeouts for the Falcons. Florea, Kelsey Carter and Madilyn Newton all drove in two runs.

Lauer said a big part of Massie’s success is a beefed-up nonleague schedule. He said about 90 percent of those opponents are Division I.

“I’m a firm believer that it’s about the way you build your schedule,” said Lauer, whose team will return to Mason on Wednesday for a 2 p.m. regional semifinal against either Greenville or Western Brown.

Foster had a pair of singles for Ross, and Kenzie Meyer went the distance in the circle. She gave up 16 hits, but also 12 unearned runs.

“We didn’t do the little things,” Winters said. “It could’ve been a little bit different game if we came out hitting better. We didn’t hit well and we made some defensive errors, and that’s what happens when you play a good team. They score runs.”

Winters said she learned a lot in her first year as a head coach. She has plenty of talent returning next season, but said Ivey and Emenaker will be missed.

“I’m proud of my team for not getting down when the score was like that,” said Emenaker, who will attend the University of Cincinnati, but won’t be playing softball. “They always fight for us seniors, and I love them to death for that.”

Ally Ivey of Ross smacks a two-run double in the fifth inning Friday during a Division II district final against Clinton-Massie at Mason. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Ally Ivey of Ross smacks a two-run double in the fifth inning Friday during a Division II district final against Clinton-Massie at Mason. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Ivey is leaving as one of the best players in Ross history. She started the season as a catcher and finished at first base.

“I’ve been having some knee issues, so they put me at first base about three weeks ago, and it ended up working out really well,” Ivey said. “Whitley (Arno) has done an awesome job at catcher. She could beat out any catcher. She could even beat me out.

“I’m ready for both positions in college. I’m really open to anything. I don’t have a lot of experience at first, but this has definitely helped me, and this summer is going to help me too.”

Both seniors said the coaching transition from Paul Fernandez to Winters, a former Ross standout, went well.

“In the beginning of the season, I don’t think anybody expected us to be here because we lost a big part of the Ramball family,” Ivey said. “But Anna’s done a great job keeping us as a team and keeping the traditions alive.”

Asked about her Ross career, Ivey described herself as “overwhelmed.”

“People come up and congratulate me all the time, and sometimes I forget why they’re congratulating me,” she said. “I have a lot of records and stuff, but honestly, a lot of them wouldn’t be possible without the other people on the team. I think they’re really just team-effort records.”

Ross 000-05—5-5-4

Clinton-Massie 12(12)-5x—20-16-2

WP – Taylor Florea (23-1); LP – Kenzie Meyer (13-10). Records: R 14-10, C 27-1

Whitley Arno of Ross makes solid contact with the ball during a Division II district final against Clinton-Massie on Friday at Mason. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Whitley Arno of Ross makes solid contact with the ball during a Division II district final against Clinton-Massie on Friday at Mason. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Ross pitcher Kenzie Meyer throws a pitch during Friday’s Division II district final against Clinton-Massie at Mason. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Ross pitcher Kenzie Meyer throws a pitch during Friday’s Division II district final against Clinton-Massie at Mason. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF