District tournament paths are set for the five Madison County high school softball teams.
The Central District coaches all came together Sunday and put together the tournament brackets, giving coaches, players and fans a better idea of what the journey to a district title will possibly look like.
Jonathan Alder (11-4, 7-2) has earned the respect of the Central District softball coaches over the years with a couple runs to the state tournament. That respect was evident during the tournament seeding process this year.
The district’s Division II coaches didn’t let the four losses on the Jonathan Alder resume effect its seeding as the Pioneers were tabbed as the No. 2 seed in D-II. All four of their defeats have come at the hands of state-ranked opponents.
As the second seed the Pioneers have a first-round bye and will host either No. 13 Centennial or No. 17 Linden McKinley Thursday, May 10. The winner of that contest will advance to a D-II district semifinal. The other top seeded teams in Alder’s district include No. 4 Highland, No. 5 Big Walnut and No. 7 River Valley. The district champion in the bracket Alder is in will advance to the regional in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason.
Top-seeded Lakewood, the two-time defending state champion is in the opposite district bracket, as is No. 3 seed Granville. That district feeds into the regional being held in Pickerington.
“I couldn’t have hand-picked a better bracket for us,” Alder coach Dave McGrew said. “If we were the No. 1 seed we planned on going to the East. But Lakewood went that direction and we decided to go to Mason. It’s the same path we’ve taken and gotten to two state tournaments.”
One of the teams Alder could eventually run into in the regional tourney if it were to advance that far is Central Buckeye Conference foe Kenton Ridge (14-1, 8-1). Kenton Ridge leads the CBC Kenton Trail Division by just a game over Alder after the Lady Pioneers staged an epic 7-6 come-from-behind victory Friday over the visiting Cougars.
“(No. 3) Granville usually avoids Lakewood and the reason why we seem to run into them every year, but this year they went toward Lakewood,” McGrew said. “Those are both really good teams, but we won’t have to play either to get out of the district.
“We just beat Kenton Ridge so we have an idea of what we might see if we get to the regional.”
London (6-10, 4-1 in MSL Ohio) was selected as the 14th seed in the D-II tourney and also has a first-round bye. The Lady Raiders will tangle with either No. 11 Bexley or No. 15 Licking Valley on May 10. The game will played at the site of the better seeded squad. A London High School win could mean a district semifinal date with top-seeded Lakewood.
London dropped a 11-1 decision at the hands of Springfield Shawnee in a run-rule shortened contest Friday, April 27. Candence Doughman and Serena Crawford each had a pair of hits in the game, while Kelsey Boggs added a double.
London currently sits in second place in the Mid-State League Ohio Division, trailing league-leading Whitehall by a game.
West Jefferson (11-5, 9-2 in OHC North) was pegged as the No. 7 seed in the D-III tourney and will also have a first-round bye.
The Lady ′Riders will host either No. 9 Northmor or No. 22 Worthington Christian on May 10. A win for West Jefferson High School would mean another trip to a district semifinal where it could possibly meet No. 4 Bishop Ready. The road to a district title could mean going through top-seeded North Union.
West Jeff is in pursuit yet another league title. It trails West Liberty-Salem (14-1, 11-1) by a game and a half in the Ohio Heritage Conference standings.
“We have been taking it one game at a time and keeping to our goals that we set out to accomplish,” West Jeff coach Jim Stevens said. “The girls know we need to finish our league games as strong as we can for the rest of the season.
“We are hitting the ball very well and still playing great defensively. The girls are playing well together and believe in each other. That will be what carries them through the tournament but first and foremost they are concentrating on bringing the school another league title first.”
Madison-Plains (2-12, 2-9 in OHC South) is seeded 21st (out of 23) and will open the Central District tournament at No. 14 Fredericktown Tuesday, May 8. The winner of that first-round contest will advance to play at No. 3 Utica May 10.
The Flames of Shekinah Christian received the 10th seed in the upcoming Division IV tourney and will host No. 12 Tree of Lifer Monday, May 7 at 5 p.m.
The winner of that game will advance to face No. 1 seed Berne Union Wednesday, May 9.
Shekinah is coming off a lopsided 20-4 win over Wellington Saturday.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.