NORTH RIDGEVILLE - Today`s dream matchup - No. 1 Elyria vs. No. 2 Amherst - came within a whisker of not happening Tuesday when Lakewood scared the undefeated Comets in the final inning before falling
3-2 in a Division I district semifinal.
Lakewood (18-11), trailing 3-1, loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh inning on just one infield hit by Lindsay Maxwell. After a double error by the Comets on a groundball, Maxwell was standing at third base.
Though she was forced out at the plate by the next batter, a walk and hit batsman loaded the bases again with two outs.
After a fielder`s choice scored Lakewood`s second run, the game ended on a dramatic note when Lauren Rosul`s lined drive was dropped by Amherst third baseman Abby Rositano.
But the quick-thinking Rositano picked up the ball after it bounced off her glove and stepped on third for the game- and stress-ending double play.
"It was scary at the end," Amherst coach Bill Matthews admitted after his Comets improved to 24-0 and set up today`s district final clash with the 24-3 Pioneers at 4:30 p.m. "Lakewood is a very good team which has been playing very well in recent weeks. We knew going in it would be a tough game for us.
"We missed a good opportunity to score more when we loaded the bases in the fifth, but when we didn`t score it didn`t get the kids down. They are a fun-loving, loose team, who want to have a good time playing, and they do."
Amherst scored all three of its runs in the bottom of the first on a hit batsman, singles by Aleecia Sunagel and Sarah Novotny, and Olivia Sliman`s powerful triple to right-center,
"I didn`t realize at the time it would be so important," Sliman said of her fourth triple of the season. "But I guess it gave us some momentum at the start."
Matthews was surprised by his team`s sloppy play in committing four errors.
"It`s the most errors in any game this year," he said. "We seldom make even one in a game."
On playing top-ranked Elyria today, Matthews said: "We`ll show up and try to have fun. I think it is neat to have the two top-ranked teams in the state play. It is a tribute to the quality softball in Lorain County."
Lakewood coach Tedd Bruening was philosophical after the close loss.
"Things could have been different if the ball had bounced a different way several times in the game," he said. "But that`s softball. Our kids played well and our pitcher was really good after having a shaky first inning. "
Jennifer Sutton (11-0) was the winning pitcher, giving up six hits while striking out six and walking just two. Kayla Ganelli (11-6) was the loser, also giving up just six hits while walking four and striking out two.
Contact Jerry Rombach at 329-7137 or email@example.com.