Blue Jackets offer stiffest test yet for Lady Raiders
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 12:00 AM
By Kevin Wannemacher
dhi MEDIA Correspondent
FINDLAY — Wayne Trace and New Riegel each come into the game riding win streaks when the two softball squads meet on Wednesday in Division IV regional action in Findlay.
The Lady Raiders, currently 20-7 on the year, are riding a 6-game winning streak and have outscored their opponents 42-9 in that streak. Wayne Trace has raised the bar in the tournament, posting victories over Antwerp, North Central and Hicksville while outscoring the trio 16-2. But the challenge hasn’t been any bigger than Wednesday’s opponent.
The Blue Jackets come into the contest riding a 13-game winning streak and hold a 25-4 record on the season. The losses for New Riegel have come to Holland Springfield (April 17, 6-1), Mohawk (April 23, 9-7), Oak Harbor (April 24, 4-2) and Columbus Bishop Ready (April 25, 3-2).
New Riegel is under the direction of head coach Jamie Lininger, who is in his 11th season and holds a career record of 208-89 (.700 winning percentage).
A year ago, virtually this same group of players came up short to Parkway 7-4 in the regional semifinals. With eight starters returning from that squad, the Blue Jackets know what it takes and will come in hungry to take that next step. The Blue Jackets have been a regular to tournament success, with eight of the previous ten teams under Lininger winning at least a sectional championship. New Riegel has one state appearance to go along with three other regional squads in school history.
In the only meeting between the two schools in the past, New Riegel defeated Wayne Trace 3-0 in the Division IV regional finals in 2010.
New Riegel led 1-0 after one and 2-0 at the end of two innings in that contest. The final Blue Jacket run came in the fourth.
This year’s version of the Blue Jackets have a stellar pitcher in senior Taylor Kirian, who boasts a 1.70 earned run average. Kirian is 24-4 on the season in the circle for New Riegel, and will pitch at the University of Akron next season.
Kirian also leads the Blue Jackets at the plate, hitting .600 on the year while senior outfielder Lauren Zoeller bats .462. Other top hitters for New Riegel are junior Kara Scherger (.405), senior Morgan Noftz (.388) and junior Taylor Arbogast (.365).
The Blue Jackets have the ability to go deep in nearly every spot of their lineup as six different girls have recorded home runs this year. Kirian leads the way (four), but Arbogast (two), Noftz (one), Zoeller (one), junior Hailey Theis (one) and sophomore Leah Bouillon (one) all have home runs as well.