Bradford softball tops Mechanicsburg 13-3 in six innings

CLAYTON — The Bradford softball team hopes the tradition continues.

In the previous three season softball was held (there was no season in 2020), the winner of the Bradford-Mechanicsburg game went on to the Final Four.

The Railroaders are now just one win from a third trip to the state tournament after a 13-3 win over the Indians in six innings Tuesday afternoon in a D-IV regional semifinal at Northmont High School.

The Railroaders, 22-5, will play the Russia at 5 p.m. Friday in the regional title game.

The Raiders defeated Howard East Knox 7-5 in the second game Tuesday.

And make no mistake — this is a very different Railroader team then last year’s state champions.

“I think we are a much better hitting team this year,” Bradford coach Shon Schaffer said. “No question about it. For all those people who think we aren’t as good this year, I think they are figuring out that is not the case.”

A year ago, the Roaders had the best pitcher in the state in Skipp Miller — who has gone on to play for Ohio University.

But, this year’s squad is averaging more than 10 runs per game and senior fireballer Nylani Beireis has stepped up to the challenge of replacing Miller on the mound.

“I feel like we can score a lot of runs,” Schaffer said. “The surprise has been how well Nylani (Beireis) has pitched. We thought we were going to have to outscore teams and that really hasn’t been the case.”

Beireis ran her record to 22-4 Tuesday.

And the Railroaders showed with two swing of the bats in the second inning, why there offense is so dangerous.

Mechanicsburg came in having surrendered just 22 runs all season.

Indians pitcher Jasalyn Sartin came in with an 18-2 record and Mechanicsburg had a 2-1 lead with Bradford having the bases loaded in the second inning.

With two outs and down 1-2 in the count, Beireis helped herself with a two-run double to give Bradford a 3-2 lead.

“I wasn’t trying to swing for the fences,” Beireis said. “I just wanted to put the ball in play somewhere.”

Abby Fike followed with a three-run homer — her third in the last two games and Bradford led 6-2 and dominated the rest of the way.

“It is kind of crazy,” Fike said. “I really wasn’t swinging for the fences. But, I knew when it left the bat it was gone.”

Schaffer has seen it before.

“That girl (Abby Fike) is going crazy,” he said. “When she swings the bat that, we are going to be hard to beat.”

The game had started with both team scoring a run in the first.

Addie DeLong had a leadoff single for Mechanicsburg, stole second and scored on Elyse Wilson’s triple.

The damage was limited when Bradford leftfielder Alani Canan hustled in to track down a throw that got past third on the triple to save a run.

“And she (Alani Canan) is new to the outfield,” Schaffer said. “She has almost exclusively been a catcher before this year. She has picked it up quickly. Alexis (Barhorst) has also done a nice job in the outfield and Rylee (Canan) is just amazing in centerfield.”

With two outs in the home first, Bradford answered.

Beireis singled, Fike slid into first to beat out an infield single and Rylee Canan followed with a RBI single.

In the second, Mechanicsburg’s Peyton Graves was on third and Kayla Day was on first with two outs.

On a double steal where Bradford catcher Shay Swick threw Day out at second base to end the inning, Graves scored to make it 2-1.

”I was happy to trade a run for an out there,” Schaffer said. “I was confident we were going to score a lot of runs.”

In the Bradford second, Alani Canan reached on a fielder’s choice, Austy Miller singled and Zoe Brewer walked — setting up the two big swings by Beireis and Fike — to swing the game for good.

“It is definitely a relief,” Beireis said about having a four-run lead. “But, I still have to bear down and go out there and make good pitches.”

Bradford added five more runs in the third.

Brewer and Beireis had RBI singles, Fike had a RBI fielder’s choice and Rylee Canan had a RBI single.

In the fifth, Remi Harleman reached on a strikeout, Barhorst singled and Alani Canan had a bunt single to load the bases.

A RBI singled by Miller made it 12-2.

In the Mechanicsburg sixth, the Indians delayed the run-rule by one inning when DeLong tripled and scored on Sartin’s single.

Bradford ended it in the home sixth when Izzy Hamilton singled, move to second on Miller’s single and scored on Brwere’s walk-off single.

The Railroaders had 18 hits — with Fike going 2-for-4 with four RBIs.

Miller was 4-for-4, Brewer was 2-for-5 and Beireis was 3-for-4 with three RBIs.

Rylee Canan was 4-for-4 with two RBIs and Barhorst and Alani Canan were 2-for-4.

“We had a lot of people who swung the bats really well,” Schaffer said.

And the Railroaders are now one game away from the Final Four — and continuing a tradition.