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2018 Softball State Tournament Preview

Firestone Stadium plays host to 41st Annual OHSAA Softball Tournament

By Morgan Smith, OHSAA Communications

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The 41st Annual Ohio High School Athletic Association softball state tournament begins Thursday morning at historic Firestone Stadium in Akron. Sixteen teams that have battled their way through sectional, district and regional tournaments will play for the chance at state championships in four division over the course of the weekend.
Four teams – Beloit West Branch, Lancaster Fairfield Union, Bradford and Defiance Tinora – are making their first ever appearance in the softball state tournament, while one 2017 state champion – Warren Champion (Div. III)—is back in Akron to defend its crown.
The divisional order of play is II, I, IV, III. All 12 games will be broadcast live by the OHSAA Radio Network, while the state championship games will also be televised on tape delay on channel 311, Sunday, June 3 by Spectrum Sports.
The state tournament begins Thursday morning with the Division II semifinal between unranked Beloit West Branch (26-3) and No. 8 Plain City Jonathan Alder (21-6). Jonathan Alder is back in the final four for the second year in a row and making its third state appearance, finishing as runner-up in 2014. West Branch is making its first state softball appearance. The second Div. II semifinal includes No. 1 LaGrange Keystone (32-0) and another first time participant, unranked Lancaster Fairfield Union (14-10). Keystone is making its fourth-consecutive trip and state-record 17th overall.
Division I play is Thursday afternoon with No. 3 Perrysburg (30-2) competing against unranked West Chester Lakota West (25-3). Perrysburg is making its first state tournament appearance since 1991 when the Yellowjackets took home the state title. Lakota West is making its first state appearance since 2011 and its fourth overall. Thursday’s games conclude with unranked Ashville Teays Valley (23-3) facing unranked Massillon Perry (23-5). Teays Valley is making its fourth state appearance, with the last being in 2016. Perry also is making its fourth state appearance and is aiming for a similar outcome from 2010 when the Panthers were state champions.
Division IV play launches Friday morning with No. 1 Jeromesville Hillsdale (24-2) facing No. 10 Bradford (22-3). Hillsdale is making its 15th state appearance. Bradford knocked off No. 3 Rockford Parkway in the regional final. The second semifinal game has unranked and state tournament newcomer Defiance Tinora (17-6) playing No. 5 Strasburg-Franklin (20-5). Strasburg defeated last year’s state runner-up Danville 11-5 at the regional finals in the regional final.
Friday afternoon, Division III semifinal games will take place. No. 3 Richwood North Union (25-2) plays defending champion No. 1 Warren Champion (29-0). North Union knocked off 2017 champion Williamsburg in the regional final and is making its first state appearance since 2015. Champion, a six time state champ, is back to the final four for a second year in a row. Concluding Friday’s games will be No. 4 Cardington-Lincoln (25-3) versus unranked Lore City Buckeye Trail (24-3). Lincoln is making its second consecutive state appearance. Buckeye Trail is making its first appearance since 1979.