Mercer County has breezed through the postseason so far, and has not given up a run in the regional tournament.
The Titans punched their ticket to tonight’s 12th Region final with a 9-0 win over Danville in the semifinals at Millennium Park.
Tabby Shewmaker no-hit the Admirals for 6 2/3 innings before Jordyn Perry singled up the middle to break up the no-hit bid. Shewmaker finished with 12 strikeouts and three walks for the Titans (30-7), who face Boyle County for a third time in tonight’s 7 p.m. regional final.
The Titans got up on Danville early thanks to Admiral errors and timely hitting, leading 4-0 after an inning. Mercer has now outscored its four opponents 36-2 in its four postseason games with three shutouts.
“When Danville had those costly errors, we capitalized on it. That’s what you’ve got to do. It gave us a little bit of cushion and made things a little more relaxed,”Ã?Â¿Mercer coach Stephen Lyons said. “I felt for Danville, but at the same time we’re trying to win the game.”
Megan Hilbert was 2-for-3 with two doubles, drove in three runs and scored what proved to be the winning run in the first inning.
She led off the game with a double, and scored when the throw on Jordan Harley’s bunt was mishandled for a 1-0 lead. With one out, Megan Osborne walked and Stacia Bryant had an infield single to lead the bases for Brittany Gibson.
The senior right fielder delivered, lacing a single to center to score Harley and Osborne. The ball was misplayed in the outfield and Bryant also came around to score as the Ads led 4-0.
“Once you give up those three or four early, then they end up getting more. Now if you give up just one right there, you have a totally different mentality,”Ã?Â¿Danville coach Jerry Perry said. “The game was pretty much over after the first inning. We couldn’t make a play, we have people making errors they don’t normally have.”
But even one run was too much for the Ads to overcome against Shewmaker. She retired the first six batters she faced, and allowed just a walk to Madison Philips through the first five innings. She walked Brianna Turpin in the sixth before giving up Perry’s hit in the seventh and walking K.K. Baughman.
The Mercer offense, meanwhile, continued to pick up runs off of Bailey Carson, who was making her second start after missing the last half of the season with a broken right thumb.
In the second, Taylor Schroeder singled and went to third on an error, then scored on Hilbert’s sacrifice fly. In the third, Taylor Readnower reached on an error, which allowed her to get to second. The then came home on Gibson’s double off the left center field wall.
Jordan Harley tripled off the left field wall in the fourth then scored on Shewmaker’s sacrifice fly with two outs to make it a 7-0 game.
“We hit the ball well tonight. I mean, on Jordan’s hit, nobody expected her to bounce the ball of the wall,”Ã?Â¿Lyons said.
Perry, whose team was coming off an 8-3 win over Somerset in Monday’s first round, said his team just got tired.
“That’s something our girls have to deal with is peaks and valleys,”Ã?Â¿he said. “We did the exact same thing after the Lincoln (County) game (in the district semifinals). You’re so ecstatic that you forget it’s a tournament.
“They did as well as they could do. We had to play a perfect game to beat them, and we didn’t. And then you put the pressure on yourself when you give up four in the first and you should have only given up one. Then you’re battling uphill the rest of the night.”
Mercer nearly ended the game in the fifth.
Gibson reached on a fielder’s choice, then Schroeder drew a two-out walk. They both came home on Gilbert’s double to right center.
But Kasey Young made a diving stop and threw to first to get Harley to keep Danville alive.
12th Region Tournament
At Millennium Park
Danville 000 000 0 — 0 1 5
Mercer County 411 120 x — 9 7 0
Bailey Carson and Taylor Estes. Tabby Shewmaker and Ashley Harley. W—Shewmaker. L—Carson. 2B—Megan Hilbert (MC) 2, Brittany Gibson (MC). 3B—Jordan Harley (MC).