Mineral Ridge and Southington will play for the Division IV district softball championship.
By BOB ROTH
CORTLAND -- The stage is set for the top two seeds -- Mineral Ridge and Southington -- to meet in the Division IV district softball championship game today at Lakeview High School.
Behind junior right-handed pitcher Ashley Ault, top-seed Mineral Ridge defeated Jackson-Milton 5-3, while Southington outlasted Mathews 13-4.
Mineral Ridge, which won both regular season games against Jackson-Milton, scored the go-ahead runs in the fourth inning.
Christy Padovani lined a single into right field to score two runs, giving the Rams a 4-3 lead.
"I was ready to hit," Padovani said. "I never had a hit against Jackson-Milton, so I feel good that I was able to contribute."
The Rams got an insurance run in the fifth -- Allison Cottrell, who went 2-for-3, singled to score pinch runner Robin Zimmerman.
Dominating: Meanwhile, Ault preserved the lead by forcing 13 groundball outs and striking out three.
"I was nervous about pitching against Jackson-Milton because it was the third time we faced them and they have a good-hitting team," Ault said. "I calmed down early. With my defense behind me, I let them do the job."
Mineral Ridge shortstop Tiffany Hack said, "It's good to play behind Ashley because she's a great pitcher with great control."
Mineral Ridge (18-3) got a run in the first inning without a hit and another run in third inning, thanks to an RBI single by Katie Olive, for a 2-0 lead.
Jackson-Milton (12-12) took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth inning on Jessica Wilmoth's triple, Corey Velk's RBI groundout and an error.
Catcher Holly Mills had three walks and scored two runs for Mineral Ridge.
"Our kids played a great defensive game and we hit the ball when we had to," Mineral Ridge coach Gene Cheredar said. "Now, we're ready to play Southington."
Jackson-Milton coach Kelly Snowden said, "Both teams played well, but we got ourselves in trouble and they took advantage of it."
Southington 13, Mathews 4: Lindsay Byer tossed a one-hitter and Mathews (9-9) was plagued by eight errors as the Wildcats (17-4) advanced to the district final.
Byer, who struck out eight, went 2-for-4. Also contributing for Southington was Becca Derr (3-for-3, four RBIs), Stephanie Hudak (2-for-4, RBI), Cynda Miller (2-for-4, two RBIs) and Jennifer Brunstetter (2-for-4, RBI).
"Facing Sarah Henrey from Bristol helped us with our hitting," Southington coach Kelly Nelson said. "It'll be a close game [against Mineral Ridge]."
Mathews' only hit came in the second inning.
"There were too many errors on our part, but Kelly did a good job with her team," Mathews coach Glen Rowland said. "I can't fault our kids; they played hard. We had people on base and just couldn't get them home."