BUCYRUS ‚?? After beating Maumee to win the Division II district championship, Bath‚??s softball players knew they had their work cut out for them heading into regionals.
Mansfield Madison was able to capitalize on some of Bath‚??s mistakes as well as hit the ball well en route to defeating the Wildkittens 6-3 in the Division II regional semifinal Wednesday at Bucyrus.
Madison (25-4) will take on the winner of Oberlin Firelands (18-12) and Granville (22-6) for the Division II regional championship at noon Saturday.
Bath (27-2) got down early but never gave up for coach Laura Ford, who coached her last game Wednesday. Ford is retiring after a 630-142 record in 30 years as Bath‚??s softball coach. Those victories put her second all-time on the OHSAA coaching wins list. This was her program‚??s 16th regional appearance and she made seven trips to state, winning the title in 2001 and taking second in 2000.
‚??I went to school at Bath, it means a lot because this school is special,‚?Ě Ford said. ‚??We‚??ve worked so hard and the girls have done everything I‚??ve asked and more. I could never be disappointed in their effort, they try hard and today it just wasn‚??t meant to be. This is a great place and these young kids will carry on the tradition, and whoever takes over will have fun with these kids and do a great job.‚?Ě
The Rams got off to a hot start. Liz Sutter leadoff the game with a single. After two straight outs, Sutter scored off Sarah Cook‚??s double. Shelbi Keller, who pinch-ran for Cook, scored when Makayala Mobley singled. Mobley later scored off Bailey Kiser‚??s base hit to make the score 3-0 after one.
For the first four innings, Bath‚??s hitters made contact with the ball but could not put runners on base as Madison was sharp defensively. The Wildkittens left runners stranded on second base in the second, third and fourth innings.
The fifth inning proved to be a different story.
Heather Miller and Ellie Dackin both singled to begin the inning. Camille Martin drove both runners in with a single of her own. Alyssa Manley then singled to move Martin to second. Abbi Price then had a sacrifice out to move Martin and Manley to second and third, respectively. Julia Miller was intentionally walked to load the bases with two outs. Kimmy Reynolds then drew another walk to allow Martin to cross the plate, tying the score at 3-3. Bath did leave the bases loaded in the inning though.
Madison responded in a big way in the top of the sixth inning.
With one out, Katie Clever reached first on a Bath error. Sutter then singled. After another out, Paige Carper had a base hit that brought in Kailey Baker, who was pinch-running for Clever. Cook was the next batter and drove in Sutter on a base hit of her own. Abbey France, who was pinch running for Carper, later scored after another Bath error to make the score 6-3.
‚??As a team we‚??re hitting about .380 and our philosophy has been to put the ball in play and good things are going to happen,‚?Ě Madison coach Tim Niswander said. ‚??We knew that we had to make contact. We knew that Kimmy Reynolds was a great pitcher but we thought we were prepared for her. Bath is a great team with a great tradition. We came ready to play tonight.‚?Ě
Sutter had three hits and two runs scored for the Rams. Cook went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBIs.
Reynolds went the distance for Bath. The junior struck out nine and walked one.
Martin went 2-for-3 for Bath with two RBIs. Miller and Reynolds each had a double. Heather Miller finished 2-for-3 with a double for Bath.
‚??I give them (Madison) a lot of credit, they put pressure on us and went after it right at the very beginning,‚?Ě Ford said. ‚??We were able to put three on the board but then had several errors the next inning. They should be proud, there were some close calls and unfortunately none of them went our way. These are great kids who got along so well. They worked hard and played well together, and I‚??m just really proud of their efforts all the way around.‚?Ě
Bath vs. Madison