WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY – Saturday was a very big day for the Bradford community as the Lady Railroaders softball team punched their ticket to the state final four for the third time in four years with a 3-1 win over Russia and a few hours later the Class of 2022 received their high school diplomas in front of a pack house during the commencement ceremony at Bradford High School.
And six of the graduates are the leaders of Shon Schaffer’s softball team – Austy Miller, Alexis Barhorst, Nylani Beireis, Abby Fike, Rylee Canan and Zoe Brewer – players who will experience their third trip to Akron with aspirations win a second straight state title.
These six girls may have been headed to state for the fourth straight year, but unfortunately their sophomore year was stolen from them due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Still, these girls continued to ad to their legacies as they led Bradford to a 3-1 victory over neighboring Russia on Saturday at Wright State University in a game that was rescheduled and moved from Northmont High School due to weather.
“I don’t think anybody thought we would be here (in the state final four),” said Bradford coach Shon Schaffer. “This win feels better than the first one (last year).”
Bradford rarely trailed in its last sixteen games (all victories), but found itself in a 1-0 deficit in the third as Russia put a runner across the plate with a two-out double.
The Lady Railroaders appeared to be on their way to bust through in the fourth as they had the bases loaded. Unfortunately, Russia was able to make a huge defensive play to end the threat and preserve its 1-0 lead.
That would change in in the top of the fifth as Austy Miller connected on an RBI triple to tie the score at 1-1.
In the sixth the Lady Railroaders took a 2-1 lead on an RBI single by Izzy Hamilton and Alexis Barhorst followed with an RBI single to center field in the seventh to push the advantage to 3-1.
“I knew we were going to score,” Schaffer said. “We are one of those teams where once we get rolling, we score in bunches, She (Russia pitcher Makena Hoying) did a really good job of keeping us off-balance. We couldn’t score a ton, but we scored enough.”
The three runs Bradford scored were critical as 11 runners were stranded on base by the Lady Railroaders throughout the contest.
But with the way Nylani Beireis was pitching and the support she received by the defense behind her, a total team effort led to another trip to the state final four in Akron where Bradford will play Strasburg Franklin at 10:00am on Friday at Firestone Stadium.