By Dave Mast
Usually when you are a highly ranked Div. III team, you don’t face a lot of major challenges in sectionals; however, the Garaway Lady Pirates got the challenge of a lifetime when they faced Monroe Central in the Div. III Sectional Final Wednesday, May 11 in Sugarcreek.
While Monroe Central’s Kayla Logston was sensational, throwing a four-hitter and allowing one run, Garaway ace Allison Luneborg proved to be even better, giving up just three base hits while blanking Monroe Central in a thrilling 1-0 Lady P’s victory.
The game, which was over in one hour, flew by and featured a couple of key plays that helped Garaway fend off Monroe Central for the win.
The first key came in the top of the first inning. After a lead-off error reached base, senior catcher Kendall Reidenbach made sure that didn’t come back to haunt the Lady P’s when she gunned down the base runner on a pick-off play at first base.
That proved to be huge because MC put two more runners on base that inning and came away empty when Luneborg worked out of the jam.
“That play was really a big turning point for us because who knows what might have happened,” said Garaway skipper Dennis Koshmider. “In a game like this, those little plays meant the world.”
Garaway escaped its error. Monroe Central was not as fortunate.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Kaitlyn stress opened the frame with a walk. She was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, and Kassidy Reidenbach then rapped a sharp grounder to short, where Cheyenne Williams gobbled it up and fired to first. The Seminoles got the out at first, but Stress had broken to third on the play, and the throw to try to nail her there skipped by, allowing Stress to race home with the first and only run of the game.
“With the way both pitchers were throwing, you kind of felt that the game would come down to a play like that,” said Koshmider.
While the Seminoles came in at 11-12, Koshmider said they had played several really great teams in starting the year 0-7. And once they got a glimpse of Logston on the mound, they knew this was not going to be a walk in the park.
“That was one very, very, very good pitcher,” said Koshmider of Logston. “That is the best we have faced this year. She threw extremely hard with a lot of spin. We hit absolutely nothing on the nose. Nothing hard came off our bats. I am very glad we got her out of the way.”
Monroe Central was probably saying the same thing about Luneborg, who improved her record on the year to a spotless 13-0.
She wasn’t her sharpest in the first, but after that she really settled in and was dominant,” Koshmider said. “She got better and better as the game went on, and her final four innings she was absolutely lights out.”
In a game where runs were at a premium, Monroe Central wasn’t the only team to squander an early opportunity.
The Lady Pirates also threatened in the first inning. Abby Detweiler blooped a single with one out and Hannah Halstead followed with a bunt single. However, Logston worked out of the jam by fanning Stress and then inducing a pop-up to herself from Luneborg.
In the third inning, Kuhn again reached base again for the Seminoles with a one-out single.
Williams bunted her over to second base, and a wild pitch put her 60 feet from home; however, Luneborg ended the threat with a slow roller to third baseman Kassidy Reidenbach, who fired to first for the third out.
After that, Luneborg was nails, and the Lady Pirates got the break they needed to advance.
The Lady Pirates will now face conference foe Sandy Valley in the district semifinal on Tuesday, May 17th. The number eight-ranked Cardinals knocked off Richmond Edison today by a score of 5-2. The two teams have played a pair of close games with the Pirates coming out on top both times by scores of 3-1 and 4-0. The game will be played at Strasburg Franklin Park.