The Lakota East baseball and softball teams both won their regional semifinal matches on Friday, May 27, by one run. The baseball team defeated Northmont by the score of 1-0, while the softball team defeated Wayne by the score of 3-2.
The Lakota East baseball team won in the 12th inning after a ground ball by senior Zak Kloenne found the outfield and scored senior Craig Thomson, who had doubled off the left field fence earlier in the inning. The win advances the Thunderhawks to their second Division I regional final in school history.
Lakota East (22-7 overall) will now face Butler (27-3 overall) at noon today, May 28, at University of Cincinnati’s Marge Schott Stadium. The Thunderhawks head coach Ray Hamilton had planned to start UC commit senior pitcher Evan Hills this afternoon, but may after to find another starter after Hills threw five scoreless innings of relief on Friday.
Hills (photo from an earlier game this season) combined with starter junior Mike Conrad to throw 12 shutout innings in the win, struck out 12 and to hold Northmont hitters to four hits in 37 at-bats. Conrad and Hills had been the Thunderhawks’ most-used pitchers all season long.
“All I know is we’re playing in the region finals and I don’t care who we’re throwing,” Lakota East coach Ray Hamilton told Cincinnati.com. “I’m not concerned. This team comes to play every day.”
Meanwhile, the Lakota East softball team also had a dramatic win on Friday. After giving up a 2-0 lead, the Thunderhawks found themselves tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning. That was when senior catcher Kelly Hardison, who holds the single season record for home runs in the Greater Miami Conference, hit her ninth homer of season.
“It felt good right when I hit it,” Hardison told Cincinnati.com of her walk-off home run.”
Lakota East senior pitcher Sara Pearson improved her record to 23-2 and struck out nine batters in the win.
Lakota East (28-2) will play Lakota West (20-4 overall) in the regional final today, May 28, at 5 p.m. at Mason High School. The Firefirds are the only team that has been able to defeat Lakota East all season. Lakota West defeated the Thunderhawks by the score of 2-0 in late March and by the score of 2-0 in early May.