The bright sun finally appeared Saturday afternoon, just as it was setting on Woodridge’s fortunes.

A game played almost entirely in gloomy, sometimes rainy, conditions marked the end of Woodridge’s remarkable postseason run as West Branch defeated the Bulldogs 7-1 in the Akron Division II softball regional final.

A three-run second inning put Woodridge (15-11) into a hole out of which it couldn’t climb. And sunshine and blue skies did arrive before the Bulldogs failed to score in the seventh, ending their state title dreams.

Woodridge, which beat Northwest 8-3 in Wednesday’s semifinal round, still has yet to reach the state tournament, but made it to within one win of that goal for the first time. The Warriors also reached the 2012 regional semis.

“You never want to lose,” Bulldogs coach Dan Schneider said. “[It was] probably the most emotional I’ve gotten the whole time. I was pretty wound up all night. I didn’t sleep much. It was exciting. We all want to go farther. That’s why we’re here.”

Sage Jenkins, one of five seniors on the team, will play for Otterbein University next year. She reflected on her season and career.

“I’m so proud of us,” she said, wiping away a tear. “Last year, by the end of the year, we all wanted to be done. But this year, it’s so hard to be done now, just because of how much we’ve grown together.

“Obviously I didn’t want it to end but I’m really happy we went as far as we did.”

Schneider saluted the senior class, epitomized by Jenkins, the starting catcher all four years she was on the team.

“Her and her senior teammates are a big reason we are where we are,” Schneider said. “Especially Sage. She takes more grief from us than anybody. We expect more out of her than anybody. It wasn’t always easy for her to realize we wanted the best out of her.

“But I think she showed us that she’s given us her best. We’re going to miss her for sure. Iron woman. Hasn’t missed a game behind the plate for us in four years.”

The other seniors, all starters, are first baseman Sydney Shaheen, second baseman Cassie Riebau, third baseman Emily Mally and right fielder Sophia DeBord.

West Branch (26-3) will make its first state tournament appearance, playing the Clinton Massie-Jonathan Alder winner at 10 a.m. Thursday in a state semifinal at Firestone Stadium.

“This is our fourth time to regionals but first time to state,” said Warriors coach Sis Woods, who started the program and is now in her 32nd year. “I’m just so happy for the girls. They’ve worked so hard for this. They believe in each other.”

The Warriors scored three times with two outs in the second, just as some rain started to fall, yielding mostly light sprinkles for a few innings that didn’t appear to affect play.

Destany Blake walked against Caitlin Raid (15-8), Riley Mesler was hit by a pitch and Hannah Sprague singled in Blake. Freshman Jordan Anderson doubled off the fence in left center to score two more.

Winning pitcher Kylie Coffelt walked leading off the West Branch third and came around to score on Peyton Alazaus’ sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.

Woodridge got its lone run in the fourth, and had a good chance for more. Shaheen drew a one-out walk, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on Raid’s single to left to make it 4-1.

Bella McBride, who went 2-for-3, reached on an infield hit, but Coffelt got the third out to strand both runners.

The Warriors only had two more base runners — a leadoff walk by Hayley Roenigk in the fifth and leadoff double by McBride in the seventh.

Blake’s run-scoring double and Mesler’s RBI single sparked a three-run fifth inning for West Branch, making it 7-1.

Coffelt (13-1), a senior right-hander who has committed to play softball at Duke, went four innings, allowing two hits and one run, walking two and striking out eight. Senior right-hander Kelsey Byers, who beat Lake County Perry 3-1 in the regional semifinal, went three innings, striking out nine.

“We don’t have that luxury,” Schneider said, referring to West Branch’s two ace pitchers. “We have other pitchers who can help us, but in a game like this, we’re going to ride Cait all the way.”