ASHTON – With a few lightning-filled storm clouds hovering near the softball diamond at Ashton High School, most watching the game between Newman and AFC were hoping for a quick ending to Wednesday's game.
Comets pitcher Laura Turnroth obliged, striking out the last two batters to finish off an 8-0 victory against the Raiders in a Class 1A AFC Regional semifinal.
Newman (9-7) will take on Amboy (15-7) in the title game on Saturday, with the winner advancing to next week's Dakota Sectional.
"We tried to stress showing up with the level of intensity that was going to be required," Newman coach Rick Turnroth said, "and the girls came through. They were ready to play."
Laura Turnroth gave up just one hit, a leadoff single to Kayla Colwell in the fourth inning, but she struck out the next three batters. The only hint of trouble she encountered came in the third, when AFC's Molly Uphoff drew a one-out-walk, and pinch-runner Carlee Hargis moved up on a sacrifice bunt. The inning ended with a groundout by the Raiders' Cassidy Koning.
Turnroth (8-7) struck out 12 batters, walked two and was backed by error-free defense.
"My fastball was working best," Turnroth said. "The dirt, there was a lot of it on the pitcher's mound so it was tough to throw my spins, but the best part was our defense. I had them to back me up, so if I let them hit it, they were there to back me up."
Offensively, the standout for Newman was cleanup batter Jenna Stevens, who went 2-for-4 and three runs batted in. Sarah Trujillo added a pair of singles and stole two bases, while Turnroth drew a pair of walks, stole two bases and scored two runs from the leadoff position.
AFC (2-15), meanwhile, only put the ball in play eight times.
"That was a big factor, I thought," AFC coach Jan Cupp. "To strike out and don't even put the ball in play, that makes it difficult. I have to give Newman credit. They were able to do that."
Next up for Newman will be the rubber match against Amboy. The teams split two regular-season games.
"That was the goal, to meet them again," Laura Turnroth said. "We split, so we're out to prove that we deserve to win. I'm very excited about it. I can't wait to face them again."
Star of the game: Laura Turnroth, Newman, 7 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 12 SO
Key performers: Jenna Stevens, Newman, 2-for-4, 2 RBI; Mary Alice Oswalt, Newman, 1-for-3, RBI, 1 R
Up next: AFC Regional championship, Newman vs. Amboy, 11 a.m. Saturday