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A perfect repeat: Wheelersburg softball wins second straight Division III state title with undefeated season

The Pirates finished the season with a 6-0 win over Indian Lake in the state championship game
Wheelersburg 2023 softball celebration

AKRON, Ohio – It was a familiar feeling for Wheelersburg softball, as the Pirates stood on the field at Firestone Stadium holding the OHSAA Division III softball state championship trophy for the second straight season.

But this year, there weren’t any blemishes on the record as the Pirates were a perfect 32-0 after defeating Indian Lake 6-0 on Saturday.

“I’m speechless, really,” said Wheelersburg head coach Teresa Ruby. “32 games. It's hard to keep kids focused that long, and they were able to do it.”

The Pirates took control of the game in the top of the third inning when they scored four times.

Rileigh Lang led off the inning with a single to left and then Ava Estep beat out a bunt single to give Wheelersburg runners on first and second. After the first out of the inning, Indian Lake decided to pitch to Macee Eaton and she hit a grounder to shortstop that Halle Roby threw home to try to cut down Lang but she slid in safely.

On the next pitch, Catie Boggs drilled a triple to left center that got to the fence and scored both Estep and Eaton. Boggs then scored on a grounder by Sydney Skiver that was misplayed at third base.

“I knew that she was throwing first pitch strikes,” Boggs said. “I just figured go out and attack.”

Pitcher Andi Jo Howard and the defense took it from there, as Howard fired a two-hitter and walked a pair and struck out a pair. The defense behind her made plays all game long to keep runners off the bases and Howard threw what her coach called a ‘gem.’

“When I have a defense like these girls behind me, it's honestly easier to just go and do what I want to do,” Howard said. “I'm able to throw pitches that I want to pitch because I know they're gonna have my back every play.”

And then as a topper to the day, Boggs took the first pitch she saw in the top of the seventh and deposited it over the centerfield fence for a two-run homer. Eaton, who had walked ahead of Boggs, was so thrilled for her teammate that she actually missed third base at first.

“I was so happy for her that I had tears in my eyes,” Eaton said. “I had to go back and touch third.”

It was an emotional day for the duo, and the sophomore Boggs made the senior Eaton cry in the postgame press conference.

“She's a role model for me,” Boggs said of Eaton. “Every time I’m not doing good, I go to her for advice because she knows what she's talking about.”

As Eaton tried to deflect the praise, you could tell she was tearing up even through her white Oakley sunglasses. That’s when Ruby intervened.

“It’s true,” Ruby said of Boggs’ statement.

The day was bittersweet for Eaton. The University of Virginia commit is happy they won, obviously, and she is excited for the next chapter, but she will miss the girls she is leaving behind.

“These are my girls, I'm losing my sisters, so it's gonna be really tough,” Eaton said. “Now go for a third.”

Ruby jokingly gave her star player a look of exasperation.

“I haven’t been able to breathe since December and we’re five minutes into this and you’re talking about three.”