Van Wert senior Alyssa Bowen takes her turn at bat in this file photo. Bowen was one of four seniors to play her final home game on Friday night as the Cougars topped LCC. (TB file photo)
Van Wert senior Alyssa Bowen takes her turn at bat in this file photo. Bowen was one of four seniors to play her final home game on Friday night as the Cougars topped LCC. (TB file photo)
By Jim Cox
Times Bulletin Correspondent
sports@timesbulletin.com
VAN WERT — Sometimes you win with good pitching or good hitting or good defense. However, it was primarily aggressive base running that got Van Wert an 8-7 win over Lima Central Catholic Friday. The game was stopped by mutual agreement because of threatening weather with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. The Lady Cougars are now 13-9. LCC is 9-11.
The Cougars scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to turn a 7-6 LCC lead into an 8-7 Van Wert win. With one out, first baseman Tiffany Ricketts drew her third walk of the game. She went to second on a wild pitch, and, when that throw went slightly awry, tried for third. The throw to third was dropped, putting the tying run only 60 feet away. Substitute center fielder Samantha Rohrbacher plated Ricketts on a bouncer to third to make it 7-7 with two outs and nobody on.
The Cougars weren’t done. Brooke Brown poked a single to shallow center field. Third baseman Meredith Adams pulled a soft liner down the right field line for a single, putting runners on the corners. Shortstop Saige Royer then drilled a bouncer through the left side, scoring Brown with what proved to be the game winner. Right fielder Kelsey Spridgeon was at the plate with an 0-2 count when the game went into a mandatory 30-minute delay when the umpires heard thunder. When it became obvious that the weather would only get worse, the game was declared over.
The T-Birds jumped out to a lead in the bottom of the first. Lead-off batter Sidney Santaguida reached when a throw to first was dropped. Two stolen bases and two singles later, it was 2-0, LCC. Van Wert immediately countered with a three-spot. Brooke Brown led off by smoking a double to the gap in left center. A sacrifice bunt, two wild pitches, two stolen bases, and three walks later, the Cougars had a 3-2 lead.


The T-Birds led 5-3 after scoring three times in the top of the third, the only earned runs they had in the game. However, Van Wert got one of those back in the bottom half when Royer led off with a rip to right center, went to second on a ground-out, to third on a wild pitch, and home on another ground out.
LCC added an unearned run in the fourth, but the Cougars tied it at 6-6 in their half. Rachel Gordon led off by poking an opposite-field fly that dropped just inside the right field foul line and squirted sharply to the right, allowing Gordon a stand-up triple. Ricketts walked again, putting runners on the corners. Gordon then scored and Ricketts alertly went all the way from first to third on a wild pitch. Ricketts scored the tying run via an errant throw on an infield bouncer.
After Brown retired the first two batters in the fifth, the T-Birds plated the go-ahead run on a single, an error, and another single. Van Wert went down in order in the fifth. Though trailing 7-6, Cougar coach Mike McClure then allowed his four seniors — third baseman Alyssa Bowen, right fielder Claire White, second baseman Gordon, and center fielder Hannah Hulbert — to take the field before replacing them all to an ovation from the appreciative audience. It was Van Wert’s last regular season home game.
McClure also replaced Brown in the circle with freshman Kateri Steinecker, who ran into trouble because of two dropped pop-ups, but escaped without yielding a run, setting the stage for the Cougars’ game-winning rally.
“We’ve been begging ‘em all year to be aggressive on the bases,” said McClure. “The kids need to be in the go mode; we (the coaches) will put ‘em in the stop mode. That’s been our philosophy forever.”
Brown and Royer had two hits apiece for Van Wert. Royer also had the game-winning RBI. LCC pitcher Meredith Niese had three hits and third baseman Gabby O’Dowd two for the T-Birds.
“We kept battling back,” added McCllure. “We’ve had a history of when we get down we don’t battle back. Today they got on top, we battled back, they got on top again, we battled back again. Those are good signs for us.”
Scoring:
Lima CC 203 110- 7 8 4
Van Wert 301 202- 8 6 6
LCC (ab-r-h-rbi)
Santaguida 2b 4-2-1-1, Shepherd ss 4-1-1-1, Niese p 4-2-3-0, Verhoff 1b 4-0-0-0, O’Dowd 3b 3-1-2-2, Moore cf 3-0-0-0, Clark c 3-0-1-1, Bowersock rf 3-0-0-0, Wise lf 2-1-0-0. Totals 30-7-8-5.
Van Wert (ab-r-h-rbi)
Brown p/2b 3-1-2-0, Rohrbacher cr/cf 1-1-0-1, Bowen 3b 2-0-0-0, Adams 3b 1-0-1-0, Royer ss 3-2-2-1, White rf 3-0-0-0, Spridgeon cr/rf 0-0-0-0, Bair lf 2-1-0-1, Stittsworth c 2-0-0-0, Gordon 2b 2-1-1-0, Steinecker p 1-0-0-0, Ricketts 1b 0-2-0-0, Hulbert cf 2-0-0-0. Totals 22-8-6-3.
Doubles: Brown (VW), Shepherd (LCC).
Triples: Gordon (VW).
LOB: LCC 4, Van Wert 5.
Double Plays: Clark to Verhoff to O’Dowd (LCC).
WP: Steinecker. LP: Niese.