Unlikely Bradford among area teams seeking state championships

Small in stature, the Bradford High School softball team has come up big this season.

Bradford, a wee village tucked on the Darke and Miami county lines and split by Ohio-721 on the Indiana border, had a not-so-robust 48 girls in its last enrollment count. But among them are the state’s best small-school softball players.

How else to explain the Railroaders’ first appearance in the Division IV state final four this week at Akron.

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Bradford will be among several area schools and multiple individuals who will compete for season-ending state championships in softball, baseball, track and field and even boys volleyball this weekend.

Chaminade Julienne (D-II), Coldwater (D-III) and Fort Loramie (D-IV) all advanced to the state final four baseball tournament that will be held at Huntington Park in Columbus from Thursday through Saturday.

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Wayne (D-I) and defending state champ Dunbar (D-II) will be among the favorites to contend for boys team titles in the state track and field meets at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Friday and Saturday.

Alter will seek its fifth straight D-II boys volleyball state championship at Capital University in Columbus on Saturday and Sunday. The Knights will be joined by Beavercreek and Northmont, both of which advanced in D-I.

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Bradford didn’t win the Cross County Conference softball title. That honor went to softball heavyweight Newton (11-1). Bradford, Tri-County North and Arcanum all tied for second (10-2).

But it was Bradford, guided by coach Shon Schaffer, that emerged from a deep D-IV postseason field. A stunning 12-1, six-inning run rule of perennial Midwest Athletic Conference power Parkway in the regional final at Greenville qualified Bradford to its first final four in program history.

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Awaiting Bradford (23-3) in the 10 a.m. Friday D-IV state semifinal at Akron’s Firestone Stadium is top-ranked Jeromesville Hillsdale (24-2). In contrast, Hillsdale owns six state softball titles and qualified for its 15th state final four. The winner will play in the championship at 4 p.m. Saturday.

• The only way CJ could better last season is to win a state baseball title. That’s because the Eagles lost to Tallmadge, 4-0. The teams have been paired in a state semi rematch: CJ (22-5) vs. Tallmadge (19-11) at 7 p.m. Friday. The winner advances to the 7 p.m. Saturday title game.

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Coldwater defeated Columbus Academy 7-2 to win the Elida D-III regional. The Cavaliers, who tied for third in the MAC, have won six state titles, the last in 2014. Coldwater (25-6) will play Minford (24-2) in a D-III state semi at 4 p.m. Thursday. The winner advances to the 1 p.m. Saturday championship.

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The Shelby County League is represented in the D-IV state final four for the second straight season. Last year Russia advanced and this time it’s Fort Loramie, which won small-school state titles in 2010 and ’07. Fort Loramie edged Fairfield Cincinnati Christian 8-7 to win the Springfield regional.

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Loramie (25-6) will play Garfield Heights Trinity (22-3) in a 10 a.m. Thursday semi. The championship is 10 a.m. Saturday.

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• Dunbar, fueled by senior sprinter/hurdler Jalani Allen, is in great position to win its 11th outdoor boys state track title and fourth since 2012. Wayne, featuring junior sprinter Zarik Brown, has its best title shot since last winning state in 2000.

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