Lady Knights lose 9-inning heart-breaker in district finals
Saturday, May 24, 2014 12:10 AM
BY JOHN PARENT
Crestview shortstop Tianna Rager slides safely into third base as Minster’s Marissa Conrad applies a late tag. Rager was 3-for-3 at the plate with 2 RBI. (dhi MEDIA/Tina Eley)
dhi MEDIA Sports Editor
WAPAKONETA — It took nine innings to decide the Division IV district championship softball game held at Wapakoneta on Friday night. In a game that matched Crestview and Minster, it was the Lady Wildcats that advanced with a 6-5 victory, scoring the game-winning run on a walk-off illegal pitch.
“First of all, that’s on me,” Crestview head coach Carl Etzler said following the game. “That’s not on my catcher or my pitcher, that’s on me.”
With two out in the bottom of the ninth and senior Kirstin Hicks in the circle for her first inning of work, Etzler called for an intentional walk to load the bases. After the first wide one to Minster cleanup hitter Makayla Guettemoeller, Hicks delivered the second intentional ball, but the home plate umpire ruled the sequence illegal, which advances all baserunner, meaning Kayla Richard was awarded home with the game-ending run.
The call, as it was explained, was that Crestview’s catcher stepped outside the catcher’s box too early on the intentionally-wide delivery. It was a shocking way to end an otherwise classic game between two outstanding teams.
Minster is a team used to blowing out its opponents. The Lady Wildcats out-scored their Midwest Athletic Conference foes by a 68-3 margin during the regular year with Richard being named the MAC Player of the Year. Richard got the ball for Minster and retired the Knights in order in the top of the first.
Crestview’s Terra Crowle matched Richard with a scoreless first frame, and the Lady Knights scratched off a run in the second. Left fielder Brady Guest smoked a double into the left-center field gap with one away and, two batters later, came home to score on Tianna Rager’s 2-out single. It was the first of four 2-out runs the Lady Knights would score in the contest.
Still trailing 1-0 entering the home half of the third, Minster’s offense went to work on Crowle. Cathy Prenger dropped a bloop single into shallow right field before Richard lined a ball through the left side and Rachel Heckman added a bunt single to load the bases with still nobody out.
Third baseman Marissa Conrad worked a 2-1 count against Crowle, then tattooed a pitch deep to the right-center field gap, bringing all three runners home on her triple. Conrad came home when the next batter, Guettemoeller, singled to right to make it 4-1, Wildcats.
Crowle would settle down and escape further damage, and proceeded to keep Minster off the scoreboard in each of the next three frames, allowing the Lady Knight offense to chip away.
Crestview came right back with a run in the fourth, doing so with a rally that followed a pair of Richard strikeouts. Crowle got the Knights going with a double to right, and courtesy runner Sydney Bowen came home to score on Rager’s second hit of the game.
In the sixth, the Lady Knights would pull even. Guest and Crowle opened the inning with back-to-back doubles, drawing the Knights to within 4-3, and Bowen once again ran for the Crestview pitcher. After a Rager sacrifice advanced Bowen to third, Richard got a ground ball to the third base bag that froze the runner as Conrad threw across the diamond for out number two. Center fielder Cora Millay wasted no time in tying the game, however, jumping on the first pitch and hitting a rope into right field to score Bowen.
“Our kids battled back, ad that’s what we’ve done at times this year,” Etzler explained. “Last night at practice, we talked about if we get down by one or two, we’re going to be able to fight and claw back. The kids really dug deep.”
In the seventh, it was Hicks that jump-started the Knights. The senior crushed a 1-out drive to deep right-center and kept on chugging as the ball found its way to the fence. Hicks wound up at third and Bowen, used this time as a pinch-runner, was able to score when pinch-hitter Nicole McClure laid down a suicide squeeze to put Crestview ahead.
Minster would tie the game in the home half of the seventh, doing so with the help of a wild pitch and an error.
“We gave them an out (in the seventh), that’s the way it is,” Etzler said. “These are great athletes, but there is going to be an error or two on occasion, you just hope they aren’t ones that cost you a game.”
The Lady Knights had a chance to move back in front in the eighth, but left the bases loaded when Richard recorded her sixth strikeout of the game. She finished with seven across nine innings of work. Richard allowed four walks and 10 Crestview hits. All five runs she was charged with were earned.
After Crowle had worked the first eight innings, Etzler turned to hicks for the ninth. After Hicks fanned Prenger to start the inning, Richard reached on an error and Heckman was awarded first base when she attempted to bunt and was ruled to have been hit by the pitch. A line-out by Conrad could have turned into a double play, as Richard was caught too far off second, but the throw was errant and both runners advance one base, setting up the intentional walk that ended the game.
“I was very proud of the girls; we battled back. We started the season at 2-5 and then finished 16-3 (over the last 19) and got beat by three really great teams,” Etzler added. “We wish Minster a lot of luck as they move on down the trail.”
Crestview 010 102 100- 5 10 3
Minster 004 000 101- 6 10 1
Schmid rf 4-0-0-0, B. Bowen 3b 3-0-0-0, Hicks 1b-p 5-0-1-0, x- S. Bowen cr-pr 0-3-0-0, Riggenbach c 4-0-0-0, x- McClure ph 0-0-0-1, Guest lf 5-2-2-1, Crowle p-1b 5-0-2-1, Rager ss 3-0-3-2, Grote 2b 3-0-1-0, Millay cf 3-0-1-1
Richard p 5-2-1-0, Heckman ss 4-2-2-0, Conrad 3b 5-1-3-3, Guettemoeller lf 4-0-1-1, Robinson 2b 4-0-1-0, x- Wehrman 2b 0-0-0-0, Hahn c 4-0-0-0, Hosey cf 4-0-1-0, Brandewie 1b 3-0-0-0, Prenger rf 4-1-1-0
WP- Richard, LP- Hicks