WELLINGTON — Runs came early for Wellington in Friday’s Division III sectional softball final against Oberlin at Wellington Community Park, even if the hits were hard to come by.
But thanks to several Phoenix errors, Wellington got an early lead and held on to it, winning 5-2 to advance to Tuesday’s district semifinals at Avon Lake High School.
The Dukes will play the winner of today’s Elyria Catholic-Trinity game.
Wellington (13-11) scraped out a run in each of the first three innings against Bryanna Rivas, one of the top pitchers in the county. Rivas allowed four runs on four hits, while striking out 11.
“One pitch at a time for us,” Wellington coach Duane Sunagel said. “We just have to keep our momentum from this game and move it to the district semifinal on Tuesday. “After we scored that first run in that first inning, the girls got up a bit and they scored another run in the second and another run in the third. We knew that runs were going to be hard to come by with Bryanna on the mound.”
Miscommunication between Rivas and catcher Cortny Robinson hurt the Phoenix (12-12).
“Obviously we talked about some of the miscues we had,” Oberlin coach Josie Martin said. “We didn’t, obviously, play our best game defensively and the bats didn’t get hot or have the timely hitting until a little bit later in the game.”
Wellington’s offense came to life in the fourth inning. After Amy Greene drew a one-out walk, Kendal Brasee hit a two-run home run to center field to make it 5-0.
Brasee was the Dukes’ primary offensive threat, going 3-for-3 with three RBIs. She added a double and triple to finish just a single short of the cycle.
“My first at-bat, people before me that hit told me what they were seeing, and it was pretty consistent,” Brasee said. “So stepping up to the plate, I felt pretty confident that (Rivas) was going to do the same for me and she did.”
Oberlin got on the board in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded, Khalilah Wimbley singled through the right side of the infield to drive in Emerson Freas and Victoria Jackson.
Despite the hiccup, Wellington pitcher Payton Regal was solid, giving up seven hits while striking out 10 and walking two.
“It felt really good to win this sectional game,” Regal said. “Once I find their weak spot, that’s when I try to be more aggressive.”
For Rivas (10-8), who got her 700th strikeout earlier this season, she can look back on her career with pride.
“I feel pretty good knowing that I accomplished all those strikeouts and accomplished everything I did at Oberlin,” said Rivas, who will play softball at Malone University. “I know that I got to keep working hard to keep pushing in college.”
Oberlin coach Josie Martin will miss having No. 10 next year – the Phoenix still have rainouts to make up this season.
“Where do I begin?” Martin said. “She’s pretty much been the backbone of the program for the last four years. She’s been dominant in the circle and dominant at the plate. Definitely gonna miss that kid.”