There are some pre-tourney district seeding charts that seem to fall apart through the sectional level. Upsets are common, and the top four seeds are certainly not guaranteed to reach the district destination.
But then there are district brackets that are filled in perfectly by four teams which were voted into the first four positions by way of the tournament draw.
The D-II rank and file at the University of Northwestern Ohio District depicts one of those scenarios, and Thursday’s semifinal doubleheader marquee will feature a pair of area softball squads squaring off against two WBL threats.
After top-seeded Napoleon (11-6) throws down with three-seed Celina (13-6) in the 4:30 p.m. opener, NWOAL champion and second-seeded Wauseon (21-5) will tangle with four-seed Lima Bath (17-5) two hours later in the Lima-based nightcap.
Four championship games capped off the sectional spark, and now what follows is district dynamite at a UNOH facility ideal for setting it off.
“The excitement level increases immensely. I mean, have you seen UNOH’s field? It’s beautiful,” exclaimed Napoleon head coach Kelsey Meyer of the next level for her Ladycats. “Getting to play at an amazing complex just adds to the thrill of the competition. Districts are intense, competitive and fun. We’re looking forward to Thursday.”
The ’Cats have every reason to be, as a recent roll leading into Thursday should have the claws sharpened and the bats primed.
A 10-0 sectional championship thumping of Van Wert lofted Napoleon into the district cloud for a third straight season – the second consecutive year cruising into the semifinals as a top seed. After a scoreless first inning, the Ladycats spread 10 runs out over the next four frames for a run-rule win to keep on keeping on.
The Napoleon sticks lit up for 13 hits while senior pitcher Megan Richardson allowed just two hits and fanned nine Lady Cougars.
And while league races and tournament trails are two different things entirely, Tuesday’s 6-1 NLL win over Northview should leak a significant amount of added momentum into the Ladycats’ focus at UNOH against the awaiting Bulldogs from Mercer County.
“Our win over Van Wert was a nice confidence booster for us,” said Meyer. “We performed well as a team and saw consistent hitting throughout our lineup. Having a strong game like that going has us eager for the next game.”
As with Napoleon, Celina used a bye through the opening round of sectionals and needed only one game to break on through to the district side. The Wildcats were pressed hard by WBL rival Lima Shawnee but managed to survive and advance via a 7-6 triumph over their conference foes.
The sectional championship win brought Celina back from the district abyss, launching the Lady Wildcats into the district semifinal dimension after falling short for two seasons in a row.
It will be the first time the two teams will meet this year, but Meyer has a good idea of the competition factor Celina will have in two when the first pitch is tossed in Thursday’s early game.
“I expect a great game versus Celina,” she said. “They’re a good team and they have already shown they have the grit when it comes to finishing a game. It should be a good showdown between us.”
Wauseon is making its debut at UNOH – a district tournament that was moved from Miller City for its inaugural run last year – after reaching the semifinal level of the Genoa District for the past two years. The Lady Indians are rejoining a known cast of district characters with a shuffling of the destinations pulling them back into a more familiar fray.
Thursday’s meeting with Bath was set up by a 12-7 sectional title triumph over Defiance that saw the Indians put a complete game together in the circle, on the field and at the dish. They then picked up a game against Tinora on Tuesday that ended in their favor, 8-3.
While Wauseon was busy handling Defiance in Friday’s sectional final, Bath was slipping by WBL rival Wapakoneta for a 4-3 win that sealed the district semifinal deal in Thursday’s late game.
Whichever two teams display what it takes to move forward will return to UNOH for a 1 p.m. showdown to determine a district champion and one of four Region 6 competitors heading to Tiffin next week.