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North Union Wildcats High School Athletics



North Union in the Final Four

North Union, the winner of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, plays Warren Champion in a division three state semifinal on Friday at Firestone Park in Akron.

They were the #1 team in the small school division of our Swankonsports.com softball coaches poll. In fact, the top three schools in that poll, including Hillsdale and Cardington, are in Akron.

North Union has built a solid softball program and coach Dawn Draper says once they were healthy to start the year they knew they have tremendous potential. “We had a rough one last year. We had a few injuries last year. One of them was my pitcher that is currently pitching. She is 17-0 this year on the mound for us and she was injured last year and she didn’t play one game. Then I had my third basemen, who is my four batter, Avery Clark, she had difficulty with my elbow. She had surgery as well. We knew we were wanting them back. When we had those two back in our lineup along with the supporting cast, we knew it was going to be a good year,” said Draper.

The “MOAC” was loaded in softball this year and Draper says that, and a tough non-conference schedule, has helped them in the tournament. “Anytime you get to play in a league that makes you play everyday, every week. The “MOAC” was super strong for us. Having some new ones as well with Clear Fork, especially, Ontario, they were ready to play us as well. They wanted to see what we had. They had heard about us. The coaches were wonderful. They prepared us definitely for a good league season,” she told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “I think our non-league games where pretty solid as well. We played in two really good classics. One was the Wendy’s Classic up there in Ashland and the Gahanna Lincoln classic in Columbus. Right there we played five really great teams, some of which as still in the state tournament.”

North Union (25-2) plays Warren Champion (29-0) on Friday. Draper says Champion is outstanding. She says they have all the elements would think of when it comes to an unbeaten team. “They are fantastic. They are well coached, they are a great group of kids. They are very talented offensively. They have two sophomore pitchers on the mound that are very competitive and are doing their job. I know they have only given up one run in the postseason. This in not our first time seeing Warren Champion. We have been in that situation in the state tournament. We played them the last time we were there. We know how good they can be. We need to make sure we force them to play defense,” said Draper.

North Union is making its seventh state final four appearance. They lost to Champion is a semifinal game in 2015. Champion has been there nine times. In fact, they won a state title in the first ever tournament in 1978.

The Lady Wildcats beat Williamsburg, the defending division four state champs, (1-0) in a regional final last Saturday. Draper hopes for a similar kind of game. “When you take our last game against Williamsburg we scored first in the first inning and it prevailed. It gives you I don’t want to say room for error. That is always a possibility. If you score first you have the opportunity to go out and relax a little bit and breath and focus. Hopefully, this is going to be a pitcher’s duel. Hopefully, we will be able to keep the ball away from their hot bats that they have had this year and make them play defense,” she said.

Published 5/31/18

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