WELLINGTON — South Amherst Firelands experienced the joy of victory and agony of defeat all within a matter of hours Wednesday in the Ohio Girls Softball Organization Class D state tournament at Wellington Community Park.
The night started off well with a 7-0 semifinal win over the Lorain Xplosion, but the powerful Buckeye offense proved to be too much to handle in the state final as Buckeye pulled away for a 14-5 win in the 15-18 age group.
“Buckeye is a good hitting team,” South Amherst Firelands coach Jed Willis said. “We played them last week at their place and laid an egg so we knew we were going to need a lot of offense to win this game. We’ve played so many doubleheaders this year that I think we’re used to playing two games by now so I don’t think that really hurt us.”
Buckeye scored three runs in the first inning, three in the third and four in the fourth to open a 10-1 lead.
Maggie Calame led the Buckeye offense, scoring four runs in five plate appearances.
“Our hitting could have been a little better, our pitching could have been a little better and our defense could have been a little better. It was one of those nights,” South Amherst Firelands pitcher Emma Ranney said. “Buckeye is a great team. When we play our game I think we can hang with anybody, but it just didn’t happen tonight. I’m at least happy we played better tonight than we did the first time we played them.”
Buckeye won the earlier meeting 17-2.
“There’s a lot to take away from playing softball besides winning and losing,” Willis said. “Of course you want to win every game but it’s been an absolute joy to coach these girls over the past two years.”
Although the state championship trophy has already been awarded, South Amherst Firelands (14-4) will have one more chance to end the season on a winning note when it plays the Sheffield Crushers in the county championship game Tuesday in Grafton.
“It will be nice to have one more game,” Ranney said. “It will be nice to face (Sheffield) one more time. It will be a good way to close out the year.”
Buckeye defeated the Crushers 6-1 in the other semifinal to advance to the championship game.
Crushers win in eight innings
Kirsten Lara led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a single to center field and scored the winning run after the next batter, Kylie Bishop, laid down a bunt that led to an Xplosion throwing error in the Crushers’ 4-3 win in the Class D consolation game.
“I was nervous coming up to bat but as soon as I hit that ball I knew I had a single,” Lara said. “Coach gave me the sign to steal second so I took off and all I heard was somebody shout nice bunt, I kept running and watching my coach, when he waved me to go home I knew something was going on. When I was coming around third I thought, ‘We just won the game.’”
After starting the season 11-0, the Crushers are now 13-2 heading into the county championship game.
“We had a great season. Tonight was just the wrong time to lose (against Buckeye),”Sheffield coach Tony Contreras said. “After the first game I told the girls they couldn’t hang their heads, and they picked up the pieces and played well in this game. It hurts a little bit right now but third place is still better than fourth place.”
Lorain took a 3-0 lead in the third inning only to see Sheffield come back with three runs in the fourth inning to tie the score at 3. The game remained tied until the Crushers got the walk-off win.
“We had to win this game,” Bishop said. “We knew we could have done better against Buckeye but we finished strong tonight and we’ve still got the county championship game to play.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Class C (13-14 year-olds)
District Championship games
Lorain Dirt Devils 16, LaGrange Bailey’s Tavern 6
Columbia Crushers 7, Buckeye 2
Class D (14-18 year olds)
Buckeye 14, South Amherst Firelands 5
Sheffield Crushers 4, Lorain Xplosion 3 (8 innings)
Buckeye 6, Sheffield Crushers 1
South Amherst Firelands 7, Lorain Xplosion 0