Warriors prepare for 33-0 Keystone


By Dan Hiner

dhiner@vindy.com

The West Branch softball team is a day-and-a-half removed from its Division II state semifinal win over Jonathan Alder on Thursday.

The players celebrated with teammates, family and members of the West Branch student body — they were bused to the stadium.

But it didn’t take long for the Warriors to turn their attention to the biggest game in program history.

Today at 10 a.m., West Branch (27-3) will play LaGrange Keystone at Akron Firestone Stadium for the program’s first state title.

“We’re very excited, probably more so than we were [on Thursday],” West Branch’s Kelsey Byers said. “We’re extremely hyped.”

The Warriors couldn’t have crossed paths with a tougher opponent.

Keystone (33-0) is fifth in USA Today’s Super 25 national rankings — the most recent rankings were released on Thursday. Keystone also was the top Division II team in each of the five OHSAA softball polls this season.

This will be the Wildcats’ fourth shot at a state title over the last eight seasons. Keystone won the championship in 2012 and were runner-ups in 2011 and 2016.

Keystone beat Fairfield Union 1-0 on Thursday, scoring the only run on a sacrifice fly by senior Madi Nunez.

West Branch has relied on Kylie Coffelt and Byers all season, both are first-team All-Northeastern Buckeye Conference players‚ã.

The seniors will have a tough matchup with Nunez, who holds the Lorain County single-season record with 66 RBIs this season.

The Warriors’ goal during their off day was to relax and prepare for Keystone.

“We’re just gonna keep working hard, get some rest and recover from [Thursday],” Warriors center fielder Grace Heath said.

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