<The Blade/Lori King
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The Archbold softball team is not simply satisfied with getting over the hump and making it to the state final four. The Blue Streaks are in it to win it.
ARCHBOLD - The Archbold softball team is not simply satisfied with getting over the hump and making it to the state final four. The Blue Streaks are in it to win it.
Archbold had reached the regional tournament for the fifth straight year, but finally earned a spot in the Division III state semifinals.
"We're not content just to reach it. We're not there just to have fun," coach Joe Frank said. "We want to compete, and we hope to bring back a state title."
Archbold (26-4) will face West Liberty-Salem (27-3) at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow at Akron's Firestone Stadium. The Blue Streaks earned the berth with a 5-2 win over Elmwood on Saturday.
Archbold has won three state titles with the last coming in 1986. This is the school's eighth appearance in the state final four. Archbold also won in 1984 and 1982. The Blue Streaks were in the regional semi two years ago and the final last year. But the last time they made it through to the state semifinals was in 2004.
"It's awesome after getting so close the past few years," junior pitcher Sarah Wyse said. "Now we're knocking on the door. People around town are excited. The community backs us up. We keep it loose. We like to have fun at practice."
Archbold won its fifth straight Northwest Ohio Athletic League title with a perfect 8-0 record this season. If the Blue Streaks win tomorrow, they'll break the school record for wins in a season.
"It would be like a dream," junior third baseman Alyssa Schaub said. "Ever since I was little I wanted to go to state. Hopefully we can pull out a win."
The Blue Streaks are averaging 9.1 runs per game.
"Our entire batting order is strong," Schaub said. "We're full of confidence. We know how to score runs. It's not one set player leading the team. If someone has an off game, the others will step up."
Archbold is batting .389 as a team. Four Blue Streak hitters have batting averages over .400.
Wyse, who bats third, leads the team with a .467 average and has 30 RBIs.
"We have everybody [contributing]," Wyse said. "I have more confidence in my team than any other I've played on. No matter what happens we can come back."
Frank said pitchers Lex Campos and Wyse both like to change speeds to keep batters off balance. They have a combined 2.00 ERA.
"Our defense is rock solid," Frank said.
Wyse, the No. 1 pitcher, said she trusts her defense and in Campos.
"It makes it easier to pitch when you know you have a great defense," Wyse said. "I have just as much confidence in Lex, and she can step up."
The team has committed just 29 errors in 30 games.
Frank, who is in his ninth season, said this team has by far the most power. The Blue Streaks have 127 extra-base hits, including 93 doubles. They also have hit 24 home runs.
"Certainly our hitting was the one thing we knew would be strong," Frank said. "We pack a little wallop. But I think we can play small ball too."
Schaub, the leadoff hitter, has a .465 average. She also has scored 49 runs.
"That easily sets the record for the nine years I've been here," Frank said.
Courtney Day, who bats second, has a team-high 37 RBIs and five home runs and a .410 average. Morgan Ducey (.384, 24 RBIs) is the cleanup hitter followed by Morgan Cody (.434, 29). Even the team's No. 9 hitter, Jenna Nofziger, currently owns a .385 average and has 19 RBI.
"On a lot of teams, a .380 average would be the best hitter," Frank said. "I'm not sure how many times the bottom of the order has started rallies. But you don't score nine runs per game with just three good batters."
Schaub, Cody, and Devin Newman each have hit four home runs.
Schaub said the Blue Streaks' sound defense also gives the pitchers confidence.
"Sarah does an awesome job on the mound and if something goes wrong Lex can keep them off balance," Schaub said.
In 2004, Archbold lost 2-1 to Wheelersburg in the state semifinal.
"I hate to compare teams," Frank said. "But this group is a much better hitting team. Defensively the teams are comparable and pitching-wise they are comparable. Both groups were obviously very talented."
Frank said he also has closely watched another of the area's talented teams. Springfield will be playing in the Division I semifinal today. Frank said he talked with Springfield coach Rob Gwozdz throughout postseason play.
The two teams scrimmaged and then had a cookout on Tuesday.
"He's a great coach, and they have a great team," Frank said. "We've made plans to get out of school [today] to go down there a day early and watch their game."
In a regular season game in April, Springfield beat Archbold 4-0.
"We're both in our ninth years coaching," Gwozdz said. "We've played Joe's team every year. We've gotten to know each other pretty well. We always help each other out. They will cheer us on and we are staying [tonight] to cheer them on the next day."
Frank admitted that the Blue Streaks don't know a lot about their opponent, West Liberty-Salem. But he said after 21 games they had already hit 26 home runs.
"I like to think it will not be a shootout because that would mean we gave up a lot of runs. But we'll do our part," Frank said. "We just need to focus on what we've done. We can't be something we aren't. You can't be a team from the past. We are what we are and that's pretty good."