The Miami Trace Lady Panthers softball team had a tough challenge Saturday when they traveled to Fairfield Union High School to take on the Falcons in a Sectional championship game in Division II.
Fairfield Union came into the game 24-0 and ranked No. 7 in the state.
Miami Trace got the better of Fairfield Union at the start, taking a 4-0 lead after three turns at bat.
The rest of the game, however, belonged to Fairfield Union as they went on to post a 14-4 win in five innings.
The game, originally slated for an 11 a.m. start, was pushed back to 1:30 p.m. due to the weather and field conditions.
In spite of the cold weather, a large crowd was on hand to take in the action.
After a scoreless first inning, Miami Trace got on the board when sophomore Brooke Henry hit her fifth home run of the season over the left field fence.
The Lady Panthers took a 1-0 lead into the third inning.
Freshman Cassidy Lovett led off the third with a single for Miami Trace. Senior Whitney Cockerill had a bunt single. This set the stage for freshman Ashley Campbell, who drilled her fifth home run of the season, a monster shot, according to Panthers’ head coach Terry Smith.
“It was just a tremendous shot to left-center,” Smith said. “It cleared a barn that was out there. It was so high in the air and hit so far, it had about everybody going, ‘wow.’ That put us up 4-0 and we were really excited.
“Being the team that they are, they responded big-time,” Smith said.
Trailing 4-0, Fairfield Union switched strategies and played small ball, executing four bunts that all went for base hits. With a total of seven hits in a row, Fairfield Union came out of the inning leading, 6-4.
The Falcons tacked on three runs in the fourth and five in the fifth, to invoke the 10-run rule with two away in the inning, on a walk-off home run by Criner, her second of the game.
Miami Trace ends the season with a record of 15-10.
Fairfield Union improves to 25-0 and were slated to play Jackson in a District semifinal game Monday evening.
For Miami Trace, freshman Maddie Mossbarger started and suffered the loss. She pitched 4.2 innings with 15 hits and 14 runs (all earned), no walks and no strikeouts.
Eaton pitched five innings with four runs (all earned) on six hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts.
“I’m extremely pleased with our season,” Smith said. Four of Miami Trace’s loses came to undefeated Clinton-Massie and undefeated Fairfield Union.
“Like I told the girls after the game, we played with (Massie and Fairfield Union),” Smith said. “We don’t have anything to hang our heads about. We should have beaten Massie at their place and, both times we played Fairfield Union, we were ahead of them. The six runs we scored (against Fairfield Union in their first meeting), I think that was the most they’d given up all year.
“We played Springfield Northeastern and their only two losses at the time were to Kenton Ridge, and they were ranked third in the state,” Smith said. “To me, they were just as good as what we saw out of Massie and Fairfield Union. So, those were six of our 10 losses.
“I think we learned a lot more by playing Fairfield Union early and playing Northeastern,” Smith said. “Waverly was playing Sheridan in the District semifinals tonight and we beat Waverly, 5-3.
“Our five freshmen really came in and filled a void,” Smith said. “They played better than I ever expected. The seniors came through with their leadership. We bumped the schedule up this year.
“We had a good ball team with a great bunch of girls,” Smith said. “It was one of the more fun seasons I’ve had coaching. Three or four of the seniors were four-year players for me. Then, the freshmen coming in, meshing with the seniors.
“We probably hit more home runs than we have in quite a while,” Smith said.
Henry and Campbell each hit five home runs, while Taylor Barrett, Alexis Schwartz and Jessica Camp each had two for a total of 16 home runs on the season.
“It was pretty exciting, top to bottom, throughout our lineup,” Smith said. “We had good hitters. It was just a fun season.”
Miami Trace says thank you and farewell to five seniors: Megan Self, Alexis Schwartz, Harmonee Napier, Whitney Cockerill and Emylee Grooms.
“We’re going to miss them a lot,” Smith said. “Harmonee was probably our most improved player.
“We have a lot of players coming back next year,” Smith said.
Smith also wanted to thank his assistant coaches, Joe Henry and Shawn Grooms.
“We had a lot of fun together this year,” Smith said. “They helped me out tremendously this year. Joe Henry helped me get the field ready many times this season. Shawn kept the book for me all year. That made it easy for me to report our results to the paper.”
Offensively for Miami Trace: Whitney Cockerill, 1-3, 1 run; Ashley Campbell, 1-2, 1 home run (No. 5), 1 run, 3 rbi; Megan Self, 1-3; Alexis Schwartz, 0-3; Taylor Barrett, 0-3; Brooke Henry, 1-2, 1 home run (No. 5), 1 run, 1 rbi; Jessica Camp, 1-2; Olivia Wolffe, 0-2; Cassidy Lovett, 1-2, 1 run.
Offensive leaders for Fairfield Union: Eaton, 3-3, 3 runs, 1 grand slam home run; Criner, 3-4, 3 runs, 2 home runs; Munyon, 2-4, 1 2b, 3 runs; Caudill, 2 hits, 1 2b.
MT 013 00x x — 4 6 2
FU 006 35x x — 14 15 1
Panther baseball falls to Athens
The Miami Trace varsity baseball team had its season come to an end with a 6-2 loss to Athens in the Division II District semifinals at Ohio University Monday.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1