Felicity defeats CNE in pitcher’s duel, heads to state

The Felicity Lady Cardinals defeated Clermont Northeastern on Saturday, May 26, 1-0 in a regional final to advance to this week’s state tournament thanks to timely hitting, a lucky break and of course, stellar pitching.

“I predicted it a long time ago that it would come down to us and CNE,” Felicity coach Rob Wear said.

The reason both teams were so sure they would meet in a regional final had a lot to do with whom each squad ran out to the pitching circle.

For Felicity, senior Montana Wear took the ball with a 22-0 record and a 0.14 earned run average. Wear’s CNE counterpart, Emily Anderson has similar numbers: a 26-1 record and a 0.30 earned run average.

The pair is not only two of the best pitchers in area, but also two of the best in the entire state. Both were named to the All-State First Team by the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association and with good reason.

“It’s huge, it’s huge,” Rob Wear said of getting past CNE and into the state semifinals. “Our pregame warm up at Wright State University was the best that they have ever had. It was awesome.

“I came into the dugout and told (my assistant coach) Donnie Hall that we just had the best warm up we’ve ever had. Usually, you’ll have a bad throw or a ball will get through, and I was trying to get one past them, but they fielded everything perfectly. They were on fire.”

Wear said he didn’t know if the good warm up session was a good sign or a bad sign, but he believed the game would come down to one play. With such quality pitching on both sides, if either team made a mistake it could be costly.

For the Lady Rockets, the one play Wear was talking about turned out to go against them.

In the bottom of the third inning, senior catcher Hillary White hit a line drive with two outs to CNE’s second baseman Raelyn Reynolds. Reynolds was unable to field the ball cleanly, allowing White to reach base.

Meanwhile, with two outs, Felicity’s Kelsey Mitchell was running on contact and scored from second base to give the Lady Caridnals a 1-0 advantage.

From there, Montana Wear took care of the rest. The Wright State commit struck out 12 batters en route to her 20th shutout of the season.

“Our girls played great defense and Montana pitched well,” Coach Wear said. “It came down to an error and it was on them and not us.

“We kept trying to put the ball in play and I told the girls if we put it in play, someone will make a mistake.”

As for CNE, Anderson gave up just three hits and gave up the one unearned run. With still a lot of talent coming back for the Lady Rockets next year, Wear believes that CNE will be able to get back to their same position next season.

“CNE is a great team,” he said. “They have a great coaching staff. A few of them are close personal friends and I’ve known eight or nine of the girls for years.

“I look for them to be in the position we are next year, hands down.”

The Lady Cardinals advance to the state semifinals on Thursday, May 31 against Warren Champion at Akron’s Firestone Stadium at 5:30 p.m. If Felicity wins on Thursday, they will play the winner of Milan Edison and Carrol Bloom-Carrol on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Wear said the team will head up to Akron on Wednesday morning, find a field to have practice, then get a good meal and be ready to go on Thursday.

“I think if we play our game, we will be state champions come Saturday,” he said.