The Buckeye Trail softball team’s winning streak began after a loss to Garaway. The streak ended after a loss to Garaway. Buckeye Trail has only lost twice this season, and both of those losses have been to the Pirates. Sandwiched in between those losses was an impressive 19-game win streak that came to a halt when the two teams squared off again on Thursday, May 10.
Kori Gutheridge and the Pirates’ defense did just enough to hold off the Warriors in the bottom of the seventh inning to hang on for their 15th win of the year, and Kassidy Reidenbach came up clutch with two outs in the top of the seventh.
“I had been looking at strikes in my earlier at-bats” Reidenbach said after the game. “I went up there thinking, ‘OK, if it’s there, I’m just gonna hit it.’ That’s what I did.”
Reidenbach ripped the first pitch she saw to the left-field fence for what turned out to be the game-winning RBI. The huge double drove in Maddie Steiner, who had led off the inning with a single.
Reidenbach has missed half the season with an injury, and the senior opened up after the game, expressing what it’s like to be back in the lineup. “It feels amazing,” she said. “Going into the first game last night, I was really nervous. I kept telling myself to just relax and it will be fine. During my at-bats these past two games, I have told myself, ‘This is the chance I’ve been given to help this team win.’”
Garaway scored a quick pair of runs in the first inning. A walk to Zoe Johnson and a bunt single by Kallie Regula put runners on first and second base, and Steiner bunted the pair into scoring position. Cassy Donaldson singled home two runs to put Garaway up 2-0.
Garaway doubled the score in the third when Zoe Johnson and Kallie Regula led off with back-to-back jacks over the left-field fence.
Holding a 4-0 lead, disaster struck the Pirates in the bottom half of the third. A base hit, along with an error on the play, put Ali McVicker at second base. Kylie Wayble was hit a couple pitches later, putting two Warriors on base. Brooke Colvin doubled to drive in a run. With runners at second and third, Jeni Carmichael attempted a safety squeeze bunt. Garaway read the play right and had the Buckeye Trail runner at third dead in a run down. Unfortunately for the Pirates, the defense could not make a play, and the bases were loaded with no outs.
Amber Colvin followed with a routine grounder to third. In a rush to make a play at the plate, the ball was bobbled, and everyone was safe. Buckeye Trail had cut the Garaway lead in half. The Pirates picked up their first out of the inning with a force at home off a ground ball by Hannah Smith. Randi-Leigh Rippeth followed with another grounder. Garaway forced a runner at second, but a run came across the plate to cut the Pirates’ lead to 4-3. Just when it looked like Garaway might get out of the inning holding a slim lead, Sidney Beaver cranked a double to put the Warriors up 5-4.
The score remained 5-4 until a big fifth inning for the Pirates. Once again it was Johnson getting a rally started, this time with a lead-off double. After a fly ball out, Steiner singled, and Johnson was held up at third base as the throw was fired in from center field to the plate, allowing Steiner to move over to second on the throw. Donaldson tied the game when she singled in Johnson. With runners at first and third, Donaldson stole second base to get into scoring position. Chelsi Rothacher followed with a clutch double into the left-center gap, giving the Pirates a 7-5 lead. Janell Mast singled to put runners on the corners, but Warriors pitcher Jenni Carmichael ended the inning with a strikeout.
Buckeye Trail chipped away at the Pirates’ lead, getting an RBI single from Cassidy Dobbins in the fifth to cut the Garaway lead to 7-6. With one out in the sixth, Brooke Colvin tripled and then scored on a single from Amber Colvin. The game was now tied at 7-all and was heading for a dramatic final inning.
After Reidenbach drove in Steiner to put Garaway up 8-7, Buckeye Trail applied immediate pressure on the Pirates. Rippeth led off the inning with a single. Sidney Beaver followed with a bunt down the first-base line. Beaver clearly made contact with the ball several steps out of the box; however (much to the displeasure of the Garaway side of the field), neither umpire saw the contact. The missed call put runners at the corners with no outs.
Having already lost three IVC South games in the last inning, it looked like the Pirates were perhaps headed for a fourth. Johnson did her best to keep the outcome in Garaway’s favor. Dobbins hit a sharp grounder to the Garaway shortstop.
“When I saw the ball hit, it wasn’t too hard, but it had bounce to it,” Johnson said. “I heard their coach tell the runner ‘go-go-go.’ I looked at the runner and knew I had a chance to get her. My throw was right in line and good for Sarah to lay down the tag.”
“I was expecting the throw and knew Zoe would get it there,” catcher Sarah Billman said. “As it came in, the only thing that went through my mind was do not forget to tag. When she didn’t slide, it was an easier play than anticipated.”
There was nothing easy about the play with Muskingum University signee Rippeth barreling down the line. Rippeth tried to avoid the tag by jumping to the side, but Billman tagged her leg and held on for the out. Needless to say, the Pirate bench erupted.
Now with runners on first and second and one out, Gutheridge was able to get McVickers out on a pop fly to Regula at second base. Warrior nine-hitter Kylie Warble came to the plate next, and waiting on deck was Brooke Colvin, who already had a walk, single, double and triple. Warble hit a short fly into right field, where Rylee Wilhelm charged the ball and made the catch waist-high to seal the win for Garaway.
It was a huge win to finish out the IVC season for Garaway. Another game with much more on the line looms on the horizon. On Tuesday, May 15 at Indian Valley High School, these same two teams will match up for game three of the season in this budding rivalry with the winner moving on to the Div. III East District championship game.