How sweet it is.
New London High School’s softball team used the perfect combination of great pitching and timely hitting to advance to the Sweet 16.
The Lady Cats edged Bucyrus 1-0 in nine innings Friday to punch their ticket.
New London will meet Elmwood, a 1-0 winner Saturday over Archbold, at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Fostoria High School.
In the other side of the bracket, Bloom-Carroll will meet Ottawa-Glandorf at 5 p.m. Thursday at Bellefontaine High School.
The winners will meet at noon Saturday at a site to be determined.
New London, 20-5 overall and 11-1 in the Firelands Conference, still has two FC games remaining. The Lady Cats, in search of their eighth straight FC crown, play today at South Central and have a game remaining (TBA) against Monroeville (11-2) with the title on the line.
“I know I play Tuesday and Wednesday and those are the two games I am concerned with,” first-year New London coach Chip Motolik said. “We are focused on South Central right now and then focus on Elmwood after that.”
Motolik said it has been a real team effort from day 1.
“I really didn’t know what to think,” he said about taking the job. “I knew we had three seniors and two juniors. We were very, very young. I knew we would have a lot of sophomores and freshmen playing.
"As I looked at it during the winter, I had so many combinations. It was a matter of putting the right players in the right position. Coaching 25 years helped me focus on where I was going to put everybody. I didn’t come to until about three days before the season.
“Kelly Norrod at first place was the only girl coming back in the same position as last year. It all came together where my defense is what it is from day one until what it is now. The lineup has been the same since the second game of the season.
“Like every team we had some bumps throughout the year. The girls stuck with it and came together at the right time. They are enjoying this ride and we are going in with confidence. We are looking to win a regional game on Wednesday.”
The seniors are Norrod, pitcher Alex Bowers and catcher Taylor Moody.
“Taylor was a shortstop-third baseman for three years and she came to me and said she would catch Alex,” Motolik said. “She put the team ahead of herself and that says a lot about Taylor.
“This is Kelly’s second year of playing high school softball. Alex played as a freshman and did not play the last two years. She ran track her sophomore and junior years and played a lot of summer ball.”
Bowers, 18-5, has a 1.34 ERA with 226 strikeouts and 19 walks.
“I think it is a two-person game with Alex on the mound and Taylor Moody calling the game,” Motolik said. “The two compliment each other so well. Credit has to go to both of them.
“And behind those two you need a solid defense and I think my infield is as good as any in the area,’’ he added. “And my outfield has come a long way. It is a total team effort and all 13 girls have done a great job.”
The offense is led by Moody batting .408, followed by Bowers at .360; Rylee Haswell at .359; Norrod at .310 and Elise Chaffins at .308.
“There are no secrets,” Motolik said. “You get to the regional level in any sport and you have to be a great team. You also need some luck on your side. You also have to create mistakes for the other team and catch a break here and there.
You need to have the ball bounce your way.
“Against Bucyrus we went toe-to-toe for nine innings. We bent a little bit, but did not break. We come up in the ninth inning and get a big hit from Taylor Moody ... That was the break we needed.
“We are not satisfied where we are at. We would love to be playing in Akron in two weeks. But we are having fun. I got into coaching to get to this point. It has taken me 25 years to get to this level, but it is priceless and rewarding as a coach. Winning never gets old.”
Here are the other match-ups:
At Wright State:
Wednesday — Bethel-Tate vs. North Union.
Thursday — Brookville vs. Milton-Union.
Saturday — Finals.
At Lancaster High School:
Wednesday — Sugarcreek Garaway vs. Wheelersburg.
Thursday — Wellston vs. Williamsport Westfall.
Saturday — Finals.
At Massillon Washington High School:
Wednesday — Leavittsburg Labrae vs. Akron Manchester.
Thursday — Independence vs. Canfield South Range.
Saturday — Finals.