Lincolnview falls in Division IV state softball final

AKRON — It was one of those “You’ve got to believe” moments.

And Lincolnview believed. And believed. And believed.

Down three runs with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, the Lancers put together a comeback that maybe had to be seen to be believed when they came up just short in the Division IV softball state championship game in a 3-2 loss to Strasburg-Franklin on Saturday.

Strasburg-Franklin (29-4) won its eighth softball state championship. Lincolnview (25-5) finished state runner-up in its first trip to a state softball tournament.

The first six innings were dominated by Strasburg before Lincolnview scored twice with two out in the final inning and the game ended with the tying run being tagged out at home plate.

Strasburg pitcher Amelia Spidel dominated early, striking out nine of the first 13 batters she faced. But she needed some help from her defense the second half of the game when she did not have a strikeout against the final 14 batters she faced.

“Their pitcher stifled us all day. We didn’t get anything going really all day. We scattered a hit here and there and didn’t get anything going until two outs (in the seventh inning),” Lincolnview coach Eric Schwab said.

Possibly the best chance Lincolnview had to score early in the game was in the first inning when Kendall Bollenbacher doubled with one out and the next batter, Addyson Stevens, hit a line drive to left field that Strasburg left fielder Rylee Becker turned into an out with a diving catch.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning when Strasburg’s Emma Gilkerson reached base on a dropped fly ball and Maggie Richards doubled to make it 1-0. Richardson scored on a bunt by Audrey Allensworth to make 2-0.

The Tigers added a third run in the sixth inning on a double by Hayley Reiger and a single by Gilkerson.

At first glance, it appeared the game would end with that score. Through the first 6 2/3 innings Lincolnview had only two hits and had not had more than one base runner in an inning.

Bollenbacher said Schwab told the team, “No clock. Play out by out.” And for four batters Lincolnview was making people believe anything was possible.

After a pop up and a ground out to start the seventh inning, Andi Webb drew a walk, Zadria King reached base on an error and Grace Brickner singled to make it 3-1.

The next batter, Ashlyn Price also singled, which scored King, but Richards’ throw from center field beat pinch-runner Allie Miller to the plate for the final out.

“We get those first two outs and we’re cruising right along and then a walk and a couple hits and all of a sudden the pressure is on. Everybody was starting to get a little nervous but Maggie kept her head and made a great throw home,” Strasburg coach Tom Spidell said.

“We’ve talked all along about defense winning championships. All tournament long our bats have really dominated. Today we hit the ball hard but they played great defense. So it took our defense and pitching to win this one,” he said. “Give them credit, they really put the bat on the ball in that last inning.”