In fast-pitch softball, pitching and defense are the keys to winning close games. On Wednesday night in Sugarcreek, Garaway and Coshocton played a contest that would send one team on to the District level of the State Tournament.
Both teams brought the pitching, but only one played flawless defense. In the end it was Coshocton who came away with a 3-0 win to send Garaway out of the tournament, ending a spectacular season.
The pitching match-up pitted a pair of seniors against one another. Allison Luneborg took the circle for Garaway while Ally Stein had the pitching duties for Coshocton. Each pitcher only allowed three hits in the game, however, several key plays turned out to be the difference in the game.
The Redskins came out in the first inning and were given the first opportunity to score. With one out, Riley Conkle was hit on the helmet with a pitched ball. A passed ball moved Conkle over to second base. A Garaway error on a dropped liner allowed Kelsey Crown to reach safely. With two on and one out, Luneborg struck out the next batter. Luneborg worked out of the jam when Ally Stein lined a fly out to center, ending the inning. Even though the Pirates escaped harm’s way, the inning would prove to be a prelude of defensive issues that would plague them throughout the game.
Ally Stein made quick work of the Pirates in the next inning getting a fly out and two strike outs.
After a 1-2-3 top of the second, the Pirates came to bat. Hannah Halstead singled with one out. The Pirates attempted to move courtesy runner Kallie Regula over to second with a bunt. The bunt was popped up, causing Coshocton catcher Cassidy Cantrell to make a fully extended dive for the ball. The ball dropped out of Cantrell’s glove, with the end result being an easy double play to end the inning.
Cantrell drew a walk to lead off the third and eventually worked her way over to third, on a pair of ground outs. Luneborg stranded her there on a pop up to Pirate catcher Hannah Halstead.
Garaway’s Cassy Donaldson smashed a double into center field to start off the 3rd inning. The Pirates looked to be off to a big inning when Amber Monigold hit a ground ball off the glove of Coshocton’s third baseman. The ball ricocheted toward the Pirate dugout. Donaldson moved up to third and Monigold made her way all the way over to second base. After the play was over, the home plate ump decided the ball never hit the Redskin defenders glove and ruled it a foul ball. Instead of runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs, the Pirates had to go back to their spots at second and the batter’s box. A pop up on a bunt attempt, ground out and pop up to short ending the inning.
After both teams went down in order in the 4th inning, the 5th inning turned out to be the difference in the game. Courtney Guthrie led off the inning with a single. A pair of bunts moved Guthrie over to third base and brought the top of the Redskin lineup to the plate. Speedy lead-off hitter Amia Woods brought in the first run of the game when the Pirate defense was unable to field her ground ball. Coshocton took advantage of the error as Conkle ripped a double down the right field line, putting Coshocton up 2-0 with a pair of unearned runs. Kelsey Crown followed with a single, ending the night for tough luck loser Luneborg. Luneborg gave up 3 hits while allowing no earned runs. Kassidy Reidenbach entered the game with runners on the corners. Reidenbach struck out the Redskins cleanup hitter to end the inning.
Garaway had another chance to get on the board when Luneborg ripped a double with one out in the bottom of the 5th. The Pirates were unable to come up with a clutch hit as Ally Stein was just too tough in circle, getting a pop up and a weak comebacker to end the inning.
Ally Stein led off the 6th inning with a routine popup which was dropped. The Garaway defense made their 4th error of the game on the next play. Now with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no outs, the Pirates gave away another run with a passed ball. Down 3-0 and with a runner standing at 3rd base, Reidenbach showed that she is ready to become the ace of the Pirate staff next season. The big righty took over and struck out the next three Redskins.
The Pirates went down once again in order in the bottom of the 6th. In the top of the 7th, Reidenbach picked up another strike out as she pitched a perfect inning.
Katelyn Stress gave the Pirates hope when she reached first base to lead off the bottom of the 7th. Stress was grazed by a pitch. Kassidy Reidenbach followed with a deep shot to left field. On most days during the season, the ball would have landed on the other side of the fence.
It was not to be though on this night. Halstead followed with another deep fly but this was also caught. Down to their last out, Redskin third baseman Kelsey Crown finished off the night with an outstanding over the shoulder catch to end the game. It was the type of play the Pirates were unable to make throughout the night.
Coshocton will move on to face Richmond Edison who picked up a big win over Bellaire. The Pirate season ends with a 24-3 mark, the second best in school history. Despite only having 3 hits in the game, it was enough to surpass the record for most hits in a season (324). The previous record of 323 hits was set in 2015.