There are times when what a softball team does in one inning can make up for the other six.
Such was the case for the Liberty Patriots, who trailed 4-0 going to the fifth inning but scored six times combined in the fifth and sixth innings and held on for a 6-5 victory over the Olentangy Braves in Ohio Capital Conference Cardinal Division play Monday at Olentangy High School.
“We asked the girls who was going to get us started, and we were able to get five in that sixth inning,” Liberty coach Bob Lee said. “Our bats finally came alive, and hitting is contagious. Olentangy made some really good defensive plays throughout the game, but in that inning a couple balls didn’t go their way and we capitalized.”
“To Liberty’s credit, they fought back, put the ball in play and put pressure on our defense,” Olentangy coach Marty Mearhoff said. “We had a couple of lapses they were able to take advantage of and they picked up a nice comeback win.”
Liberty (4-3, 2-1 OCC Cardinal) got nothing early as Olentangy (2-5, 0-2) senior pitcher Biz Brehm threw perfect ball through the first four innings, retiring the first 12 batters she faced in order.
“Biz pitched a fantastic game,” Mearhoff said. “She hit her spots and was efficient with her pitches, and our defense behind her was solid, except for that one inning.”
“Biz kept the ball down and away,” Lee said. “We tried to make a few adjustments and make her throw inside, but she never did. To her credit, she pitched a really nice ballgame.”
Meanwhile, the Braves got runners on in every inning and broke through for two runs in the third. Sophomore center fielder Hailey Wilson walked and junior catcher Megan Beidelman followed an out later with a bad hop single on the infield.
Senior shortstop Amanda Wojta then grounded a single up the middle to score Wilson and send senior courtesy runner Dani Bigham to third. With two out, senior right fielder Mandy Rodriguez hit a sharp grounder through the left side of the infield to score Bigham.
“We had some critical hits to score some runs and had control of the game up until the sixth inning, but we left nine runners on,” Mearhoff said. “We had some good offense, but we needed a couple more clutch hits.”
Liberty finally broke up the perfecto and got on the board in the fifth. Senior third baseman Aoife Duffy led off the inning by ripping a solid single up the middle.
One out later, freshman pitcher Kristen Adkins hit a grounder to third, but the throw trying to retire Duffy at second got past the Olentangy second baseman, allowing Duffy to take third.
Freshman catcher Bailey Ankrim then hit a high line drive that tipped off the second baseman’s glove into right center to score Duffy.
Olentangy negated the run with two of its own in the bottom half. Beidelman and Wojta hit back-to-back singles, and Rodriguez drove both Bigham, courtesy running again for Beidelman, and Wojta home with a double to a wide open hole in center field.
But in the sixth, the wheels fell off for Olentangy, and Liberty plated five runs. Sophomore shortstop Madison Kadlic hit a fly ball to right field that popped out of the right fielder’s glove for a two-base error, and senior center fielder Andrea Cardinali faked a bunt, then slapped a single up the middle to score Kadlic.
Senior second baseman Sarah Drosos then reached on an error at second base and took third when Duffy ripped another single up the middle. With junior first baseman Kayla Pfaff batting, Brehm went into her windup, but the ball slipped from her grasp between the pitching rubber and second base, allowing Drosos to score and Duffy to take second.
“That was a great heads up play by Sarah,” Lee said. “A lot of players wouldn’t have known what to do on that play, but Sarah’s a senior, and she did a nice job getting down the line.”
Pfaff then singled to center to get Duffy to third, and Adkins doubled to center field to plate Duffy with the go-ahead run and send Pfaff to third. Ankrim then hit a sacrifice fly to center that brought Pfaff home.
“Everything that could go wrong went wrong in that inning,” Mearhoff said. “But again, give Liberty credit. They never gave up, played a good game, and the better team won tonight.”
The Braves got one run back in the bottom half. Freshman second baseman Missy Lee walked, took second on a fielding error at first off Wilson’s bat, and scored when Brehm grounded to first, but could not get another run across.
Adkins didn’t have her best day, but still earned the complete-game victory. The freshman right-hander gave up four earned runs, 10 hits and four walks, but negated a great many Olentangy chances with 10 strikeouts.
“Kristen didn’t quite have her control today,” Lee said. “She was deep in the count to a lot of batters and we were ready to make a switch, but when we felt the momentum change, we thought it was important to give her a chance to finish, and she finished it.”
Duffy had two singles and one RBI to top the Liberty offense. Adkins added her RBI double. Cardinali, Pfaff and Ankrim each had a single, Ankrim driving in two runs and Cardinali one.
Brehm took a tough loss, despite retiring the side in order in five of her seven innings. Brehm gave up just two earned runs and seven hits while striking out two.
Beidelman, Wojta, Rodriguez and junior designated player Megan Hupp had all 10 Olentangy hits. Beidelman and Rodriguez had three hits each, Rodriguez recording the team’s only extra-base hit, her fifth-inning double, and driving in three runs. Wojta and Hupp had two singles each, Wojta adding one RBI.
Hayes 12, Watkins Memorial 2, 6 innings
The Pacers picked up their fourth straight win Monday, cruising past the host Warriors in OCC-Capital Division action.
Hayes (4-2, 3-0 OCC) scored two runs in the first to set the tone. It then added six in the fourth, two in the fifth and two more in the sixth to seal the deal.
Mikayla Cooper picked up the win in the circle, tossing all six innings while striking out seven and walking just one. She also had four hits at the plate while scoring four runs and driving in three.
Other Pacer standouts included Abey Frey, who was 4-for-5 with two doubles, two runs and two RBIs; and Lindsey Blair, who was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
Orange 3, New Albany 1
The Pioneers got a solid showing from Mason Robinson in the circle, scoring runs in the fifth and sixth to turn a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 OCC-Capital Division win over the Eagles Monday in Lewis Center.
Robinson allowed just two hits in her seven innings of work, striking out four while walking none en route to the win.
Jenn Kurelic led the way from the plate, going 3-for-3. She knocked in what proved to be the game-winning run with a single in the fifth.
Hilliard Bradley 9, Big Walnut 4
Leah Shaw provided a boost, connecting on a three-run home run to account for nearly all the Golden Eagle offense, but defense let Big Walnut down in Monday’s OCC-Capital Division loss to visiting Hilliard Bradley.
More than half the Bradley runs were unearned as Sara Petty took the tough-luck loss in the circle.