CLAYTON – Last year Bradford defeated Mechanicsburg in the regional final by the slimmest of margins, 1-0, on its was to winning the school’s first state championship in any sport.
On Tuesday the two teams met again with the stakes just as high and this time the Lady Railroaders rolled over the Indians with a 13-3 run rule victory in six innings.
People like to compare this year’s Bradford team to last year’s team, but this is a different team who is more potent at the plate.
“I think we are a much better hitting team this year,” Bradford coach Shon Schaffer said. “No question about it. For all those people who think we aren’t as good this year, I think they are figuring out that is not the case.”
Granted, Bradford is missing its pitcher from a year ago (Skipp Miller) who is now playing collegiately at Ohio University, but senior Nylani Beireis is no slouch by any means. In fact, in her freshman year Beireis helped lead the Lady Railroaders to the state final four three years ago with Miller out with an injury.
Now, Beireis, who improved to 22-4 on the season, is making her own mark on the softball program at Bradford.
“I feel like we can score a lot of runs,” Schaffer said. “The surprise has been how well Nylani (Beireis) has pitched. We thought we were going to have to outscore teams and that really hasn’t been the case.”
Pitching isn’t the only way Beireis has been a critical component to Bradford’s success as evident by her ability to make things happen at the plate.
This was showcased with Bradford trailing 2-1 in the second inning as Beireis connected on on a two-run double to give the Lady Railroaders a 3-2 lead.
This ignited Bradford, who is the type of team that attacks when it smells blood in the water, as Abby Fike followed with a three-run home run to push the lead to 6-2.
The flood gates opened for Bradford as it plated five more runs in the third and then pushed the lead to 12-2 with an RBI single by Austy Miller.
Mechanicsburg followed by scoring a run to delay the run rule, but Bradford wasn’t going to be denied as Zoe Brewer connected on a walk-off single to drive in Izzy Hamilton for the final run.
“We had a lot of people who swung the bats really well,” Schaffer summarized. “I was confident we were going to score a lot of runs.”
Bradford connected on 18 hits, with Abby Fike going 2-for-4 with four RBI. Austy Miller was 4-for-4, while Nylani Beireis was 3-for-4 with three RBI and Rylee Canan was 4-for-4 with two RBI. Also, Zoe Brewer was 2-for-5 and Alexis Barhorst and Alani Canan were both 2-for-4.
Next up is a showdown with neighboring Russia in the regional final on Friday, May 27th at 5:00pm at Northmont High School.