Little League Softball World Series Championship 2018Wheelersburg, OH vs Tunkhannock, PA

(6-2-21) The OHSAA D III Softball State Semifinal game between Wheelersburg and Fairview should provide for an interesting battle of two teams looking for a State title. The game features a contrast of youth vs. experience.

Anna Ankney and AndiJo Howard

Wheelersburg is one of the youngest teams competing this weekend in Akron.

Pirate freshmen and sophomores accounted for 10 of Wheelersburg’s 14 hits and had six of their eight RBIs in their Regional win over Ironton 9-1.

Many of those underclass members were a part of the 2018 Little League Softball World Series championship team that represented Wheelersburg.

A 2018 story from the Time-Gazette on that championship win:

On Wednesday night, the Wheelersburg LL softball team won the 2018 Little League Softball World Series championship game over Tunkhannock LL (PA) in a 3-0 shutout victory. For the third straight game in as many days, ace pitcher AndiJo Howard was dominant on the mound. Howard finished Wednesday night’s championship game with a complete game shutout victory, seven strikeouts, and only three hits allowed. Howard did not walk a single batter in the game.

Howard (Freshman), who pitched and won in the LLWS Championship game, was the winning pitcher in the win over Ironton giving up just 1 run, 8 K’s on 4 hits. At the plate Howard went 2-3, RBI and two doubles.

Wheelersburg coach Teresa Ruby after the Regional win regional final win told the Portsmouth Daily Times

“There’s several of those kids that were on the LLWS team, so they’re used to playing on a big stage. Play some high-level travel ball. They have a sense of being used to it, it’s still different for them and it’s a different trip. They’ve stepped up all season for us — they’ve not played like freshmen or COVID freshmen. That is what we saw in the 2016 title team, on any given day anybody can be the player.”

Two other members of the LLWS team had big days in the Regional Final win..Haley Myers was 2-4, 2 RBIs, 2B, R, and Sydney Skiver was 1-4 with a RBI.

Before the pandemic Wheelersburg had a long run in the Final 4… state champions in 2016 and regional champs in 2015 and 2017.

For the first time in school history, Fairview earned a trip to the state softball tournament as the Apaches run-ruled Cardington-Lincoln 11-1 in five innings in the D III Regional final.

Anna Ankney (Sr) had a big day in the win with a single,2 home runs (including a grand slam) 2 runs and 7 RBIs.

Cardington-Lincoln head coach Tod Brininger after the game talked about winning pitcher Paige Ricica to Morrow County Sentinel

“She hides the ball well. All the kids said she wasn’t really that fast, but she hides it well and it gets there quicker than expected.”

Fairview head coach Staci Renollet told the Crescant-News

“Just the kind of group they are, if possible I think (the 2020 canceled season) made them even hungrier for this season. The way they play together, they’re so close and they trust each other up and down the lineup. They don’t care who gets the big hit or who makes the big play. It couldn’t be more of a team.”

A Senior led team including Kiersten Cline, Olivia Ricica and Cassie Mavis.

One of the biggest reasons for Fairview’s success was the one-two punch of Cline and Ankney who combined for 108 hits, 110 runs, 26 doubles and 85 RBIs entering the regional finals.

The winner will advance to the D III State title game vs. the winner of the Johnstown-South Range game on Saturday.

OHSAA Division III Softball Final 4 Schedule

  • Johnstown (19-11) vs. Canfield South Range (29-3), Friday, 10 a.m.
  • Fairview (26-1) vs. Wheelersburg (26-1), Friday, 12:30 p.m.
  • Championship Game: Saturday, 4 p.m.

From Northern Ohio to Southern Ohio….

The two teams are over 4 hours away from each other…Sherwood in the North is near both the Indiana and Michigan borders, while Wheelersburg to the South is close to both West Virginia and Kentucky.