By John Parent
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
SPENCERVILLE - It took until the fourth inning for the Spencerville bats to wake up, but when they did, the Lady Bearcats sent 12 batters to the plate and piled up seven runs in the frame en route to a 10-0 win over Lincolnview in Monday's Division IV sectional semi-final softball game. The game-ending run scored with two outs in the sixth.
Spencerville senior Tori Johnston was in command throughout the game, limiting the Lady Lancers to a total of three base hits, all of them singles. Though Lincolnview's hitters battled at the plate, forcing Johnston to throw 120 pitches on the night, and put runners on base in five of their six innings at the plate, the Lady lancers went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Lincolnview stranded eight runners on base, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth.
"Just no timely hits," Lancer head coach Kent McClure explained. "You take your hats off to Spencerville, they did a nice job, but that's been our problem all year is just no timely hits."
After Johnston escaped that jam, Spencerville's offense went to work on Lancer starter Ashley McClure. The Bearcats put together a seven-run inning, coming on the back of four hits and aided by a costly Lancer error. Johnston started the rally by drawing a walk and catcher Haleigh Mull followed with a ground ball through the left side of the Lancer defense. It was Spencerville's first hit of the game.
First baseman Cait Propst then rifled a single up the middle and center fielder Autumn Proctor came up throwing. Lancer catcher Julia Thatcher corralled a high throw and came down with a tag on courtesy runner Destiny Price, but Price managed to get in and touch home a split second before the tag was applied. With still no one out, Spencerville had runners at second and third and already led 1-0.
After an RBI groundout made it 2-0, Megan Miller grounded one to third that brought in another run. Miller was safe at first and moved to second when the Lancer throw to first got away. After a wild pitch moved her to third, Miller came in on a ground ball to first, beating Macey Ashbaugh's throw to the plate.
"We've been preaching that 'you gotta go out and get ahead of good pitchers (by swinging early in the count)," Spencerville coach Jeff Johnston said of his team's fourth-inning adjustments. "The girls came out and started hitting strikes, and started hitting their pitches instead of hitting (McClure's). That makes all the difference in the world."
Spencerville racked up eight hits in the game, but it was a total team effort. No Bearcat hitter had more than one hit and only Alex Hamrick went hitless. Hamrick, however, reached base twice and picked up an RBI when she was hit by a pitch for force home the game's final run.
"That's just believing in yourself," the Bearcat coach noted. "When a couple of them get a hit, it gets contagious and they all start swinging. They get more aggressive and they start believing a little bit more. It all kind of snowballs there."
Johnston went the distance for Spencerville, allowing just three walks while striking out nine.
"She controlled all of her pitches," coach Johnston added. "She was hitter her spots, and that's big because you gotta get ahead of batters. She threw early strikes, which makes things easier on the defense."
For the Lancers, senior Ashley McClure went as far as she could before being relieved by Macala Ashbaugh with two out in the fourth. She allowed just two hits, but walked five and wound up being charged with six runs (five earned).
"The last two weeks, she's been really battling," the Lancer coach offered regarding McClure's rough outing. "She's had stiffness in her shoulder blade. Any sign of it and I was going to take her out. I even thought about (not starting her). This morning she was still stiff, but how do you say no to a senior? She's been our workhorse all year."
Spencerville (11-12) will visit Marion Local on Thursday in the sectional final.
Lincolnview 000 000- 0 3 3
Spencerville 000 721- 10 8 1
Macey Ashbaugh 1b 3-0-0-0, Thatcher c 3-0-0-0, Neate ss 2-0-0-0, Springer lf 2-0-0-0, Macala Ashbaugh dh-p 3-0-1-0, McClure p 2-0-0-0, x- Taylor ph 1-0-1-0, Mohr 3b 2-0-0-0, Klingler 2b 2-0-0-0, x- Miller ph-2b 1-0-0-0, Proctor cf 1-0-1-0
Work lf 2-1-1-1, Ringwald cf 3-1-1-1, Johnston p 2-0-1-2, x- Price cr 0-1-0-0, Mull c 3-1-1-0, Propst 1b 4-1-1-1, Crider rf 3-2-1-1, Miller 2b 3-2-1-1, Shumate 3b 3-1-1-1, x- King pr 0-0-0-0, Hamrick dh 2-0-0-1
LOB- Lincolnview 8, Spencerville 9; extra-base hits - none; SB- Thatcher, Taylor, Proctor 2, Work 2, Ringwald, Price; CS- Hamrick (by Thatcher)
McClure (L) 3.2 IP 2 H 6 R 5 ER 5 BB 4 K
Macala Ashbaugh 2.2 IP 6 H 4 R 3 ER 2 BB 1 K
Johnston (W) 6.0 IP 3 H 0 R 0 ER 3 BB 9 K
* final run scored with two outs in the sixth
HBP- Crider (by Ashbaugh), Hamrick (by Ashbaugh); WP- McClure 2, Johnston