GREENVILLE – The Greenville softball team enters this week’s regional tournament looking for two things: redemption and a trip to the state final four.
Greenville will play Granville at 5 p.m. Thursday at Mason High School in the Ohio High School Athletic Association regional semifinals. The Lady Wave are familiar with the Blue Aces as they played each other last year in the regional finals, a game Granville won 7-1.
“Couldn’t draw it up any better,” Greenville coach Jerrod Newland said. “Life’s weird. You get an opportunity for redemption. It doesn’t happen too often, and it’s happening.”
After eliminating Greenville from the tournament, Granville went on to win the 2015 Division II state championship. Having seen the Blue Aces go on to the state final four in Akron last year, the Wave said now it’s their turn.
“It’s redemption time, honestly,” Greenville senior Ashton Kester said. “They beat us last year so this year it’s our turn.”
Greenville’s three seniors – Kester, Allison Minnich and Jazzlyn Petry – are playing in the OHSAA regional tournament for a third time. However, they’ve never made it to the state final four, having lost in the regional finals in 2013 and 2015.
“We all know that it’s going to take a team effort to get there,” Petry said. “I think we’ve all realized that more this year than we have any other year.”
One thing Greenville has going for it as it enters this year’s regional tournament is experience. The Lady Wave only lost one player, Ally Russell, from last year’s regional runner up team.
“Everybody is a year older, a year wiser, a year stronger, a year sharper,” Newland said.
Russell, who now plays for Wright State University, wasn’t easy to replace, but Minnich has stepped up and posted a 1.68 ERA this season.
“It’s been great,” Minnich said of taking over as Greenville’s pitcher. “I feel that I can rely on my defense more than anything with anything that goes on during the games. If I have a bad game, they support me 100 percent, and they back me up on it. I’m very confident up on the mound when I have a team behind me that way.”
If Greenville can defeat Granville on Thursday, it would advance to Saturday’s regional championship game against either Hamilton Ross or Kenton Ridge with the spot in the state final four on the line.
“I think this year we have what it takes to make it,” Kester said. “Not that we haven’t in the past years, it’s just this year we can really feel it. We’re all really close this year.”
While none of the current Greenville players have ever made the state final four, Newland has led the Lady Wave to state three times – 2007, 2010 and 2012. He’s confident that this year will be the Wave’s fourth trip.
“We’re heading to Akron,” he said. We’re heading to Akron – 100 percent.”
Greenville’s quest to make it to Akron and earn redemption starts Thursday.
“It feels good,” Minnich said. “Also it feels a lot better knowing that we’re playing somebody who knocked us out last year. So redemption is good.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.