Bradford softball advances to D-IV regional final with 5-1 win over Lincolnview

GREENVILLE — The showdown everyone has been waiting for is set for 11 a.m. Saturday.

The Railroaders and Mechanicsburg will meet in a D-IV regional final Saturday at Greenville.

After Mechancisburg defeated Russia 16-0 in five innings, Bradford topped Lincolnview 5-1 to set up the matchup. The Lancers finish the season at 24-4.

In 2018, Bradford advanced to the Final Four when Skipp Miller was a freshman.

In 2019, with the Railroader pitcher out with a knee injury, it was Mechanicsburg who made the trip to Akron.

And the expected showdown in last year’s regional final was delayed a year by Covid, but is now here.

“I told people this could be the matchup,” Bradford softball coach Shon Schaffer said. “I said if Mechanicsburg went in the right bracket and we went in the right bracket, we could meet in the regional final. They have a top-level pitcher (Daytayviah Rodgers) and they are really good team.”

The Indians will come into the game with a 23-4 mark, while Bradford is 27-2.

Mechanicsburg comes in not having allowed a run in the postseason, while Lincolnview’s run — unearned — was the first run Skipp Miller has surrendered in the postseason.

Bradford had defeated Mechanicsburg in the regional semifinal in 2018.

“It is going to be a great game,” Skipp Miller said. “That game in 2018 was really close. It is going to be a tough game. I am excited about it. I love playing against great competition.”

On Wednesday, Miller tossed a two-hitter, stiking out 13, walking three and hitting one batter.

Lincolnview’s only run came on a throwing error on a steal of third.

“It is always good to see Skipp (Miller) smiling before the game,” Schaffer said. “And she was smiling tonight.”

And Bradford came out swinging the bats.

The Railroaders had eight hits in their first three at bats to take a 4-0 lead.

In the first inning, Austy Miller led off with a double and continued to third when the centerfielder bobbled the ball.

With the Lancers expecting a bunt, Abby Fike lined the ball into right field to give the Railroaders a 1-0 lead.

“They were really pulled in tight on the corners (to prevent the bunt),” Schaffer said. “When you do that, it leaves a lot of open space.”

In the second, Rylee Canan led off with a single and Buzz Brewer smashed a triple to score Canan.

Brewer would score on Izzy Hamilton’s RBI single to make it 3-0.

In the fourth, Skipp Miller would lead off with a single.

Alexis Barhorst ran for Miller.

Nylani Beireis had a single and Barhorst would come around to score on a head-first dive on a wild pitch.

“Our upperclassmen, which is nearly everyone but Izzy Hamilton out in right field, have a lot of experience at the plate,” Schaffer said. ‘And Izzy (Hamilton) had a big hit tonight.”

The biggest blast came from Skipp Miller, when she sent a bomb over the centerfield fence in the fifth inning.

A big smile came across her face when she was asked about it.

“Well, I have been in a slump,” Miller said. “So, that felt really good coming off my bat.”

Bradford has five seniors with big-game experience, which Schaffer believes will pay dividends Saturday.

“That Hillsdale girl (Bradford faced at the state tournament in 2018) was as good as it gets,” he said. “I think they learned from that.”

Skipp Miller agreed.

“I think that and playing traveling ball,” she said. “That’s what prepares you for games like this (Mechanicsburg).”

And like softball fans in the area, the Railroaders can’t wait for the showdown.