BATH TOWNSHIP – With the go-ahead run on base in extra innings of Celina’s 6-5 softball win over Bath on Tueday the Bulldogs’ leadoff hitter Emily Keith was confident when she went to the plate.
And not just because her first four at bats had produced two solo home runs, a double and an intentional walk. She was exactly where she wanted to be and that figured into the equation, too.
“This girl lives for pressure,” Celina coach Nicole Driggs said. “She loves it.”
Celina loved it when Keith launched a double to right center field to score Harlee Harris with the deciding run in an 8-inning game that turned dramatic just when it looked like it might be routine.
Celina led 5-0 after 5 ½ innings, but Bath scored once in the bottom of the sixth inning and got four more runs in the seventh to send the game into extra innings.
“I think the girls just had the desire to want to go out and prove themselves. We’d kind of been shaky all game and we talked about digging deep,” Bath coach Hannah Slavin said about the Wildkittens’ comeback. “I was really proud of them for digging deep.”
Celina (8-4, 5-0 Western Buckeye League) remained tied with Defiance for the WBL lead with its win. Bath is 10-4 overall and 3-2 in the WBL.
The Bulldogs struck early when Keith hit a long home run to left field on the first pitch of Tuesday’s game and their lead grew to 2-0 when she homered to center field in the third inning for her sixth long ball of the season. Taylor Turner’s three-run home run in the top of the fifth inning made it a 5-0 game.
Keith, Celina’s starting pitcher, allowed only one run and four hits through the first six innings. But Bath used a single by Tori Dackin, a triple by Chandler Clark, a single by Riley Iiames, a double by Kali Armstrong and an error on an infield grounder by Emily Rocca to tie the game 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh.
Maddy Luebke came in to pitch and got the final out of the seventh inning and was the winning pitcher after getting three outs in the eighth.
“This was a tough game coming in here. It’s been a while since we won on their home field. We knew there was no way Bath was going to settle for a 5-0 shutout. They’re going to come back and they did,” Driggs said.
Celina’s game-winning rally started when its No. 9 hitter Harris drew a two-out walk, which brought Keith to the plate.
Bath considered intentionally walking Keith again, as it had in the sixth inning, but decided against it.
“We went back and forth with it.” Slavin said. “Our thought was we didn’t want to put the winning run on second base. We were trying to pitch away from her but she’s a good hitter and went with the pitch.”
Keith said her focus as Bath met at the pitcher’s circle to discuss how to pitch to her was just that she wanted a chance to swing the bat.
“I wanted them to pitch to me. I really, really wanted them to pitch to me. I wanted to do it for my team. I knew I had the opportunity to do it for my team,” she said.