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Oak Hills High School softball team has created a strong bond this entire season

Highlanders seeking first state Final Four trip
Posted at 10:03 PM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 22:03:13-04

FAIRBORN, Ohio — Oak Hills High School junior infielder Maeve Fink described being one step away from the state softball tournament as simply surreal.

"It's incredible," Fink said. "We can go so far."

Fink had four hits and drove in six runs as Oak Hills defeated Mercy McAuley 9-1 Tuesday afternoon in a Division I regional semifinal at Wright State University.

Fink's double to left center scored three runs in the top of the first inning to help give the Highlanders an early advantage at 3-0. Fink had an RBI double in the third and drove in two runs in the fourth inning.

"Maeve has been clutch for us the whole second half of the season," Oak Hills coach Jackie Cornelius-Bedel said. "So I have all the confidence when she comes up with runners on base."

Oak Hills (24-4) plays Lakota West (25-4) in an all-Greater Miami Conference regional final at 5 p.m. Friday at Wright State.

"That tells you how strong our league is," Cornelius-Bedel said.

The winner advances to a state semifinal June 2 at Firestone Stadium in Akron.

Oak Hills is seeking its first trip to the state Final Four while Lakota West has made it five times, including as a 2021 state semifinalist.

The Firebirds, winners of 13 consecutive games, defeated Mason 5-4 in the other regional semifinal Tuesday.

It continues to be a special journey this season for Lakota West, which celebrated coach Keith Castner's 500th career win in April. The Firebirds were ranked No. 7 in the season's final state coaches' poll.

Oak Hills is making its first regional final appearance since 2012. The Highlanders have a great deal of confidence this season and they are able to thrive as a collective effort.

"They expect to win versus it took us a while to get here to know that it wasn't just a fluke or luck," Cornelius-Bedel said. "They realize now we're good and we belong here."

Junior pitcher Avery Gottlieb had 11 strikeouts Tuesday in the regional semifinal and improved to 23-4 this season.

"There are no words to describe the type of bond and family that we created this year," Gottlieb said. "We came into this season knowing that last season we had a great year but we wanted to do better."

Gottlieb said the team has had a clear vision for how it would gauge success this spring.

"We had set big goals for ourselves - getting on the banner which we did that by winning the GMC along with West," Gottlieb said. "(Winning) sectionals, district and hopefully this Friday we can finish it off and win regionals and head to state."

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