ASHLAND, Ohio — Perseverance and resiliency were the keys for Eastwood’s softball team Saturday.
The Eagles trailed 2-0 after half an inning against Magnolia Sandy Valley in the Division III regional semifinal at Ashland’s Brookside Park.
And after four and one half innings, the score was tied at 6.
Eastwood then scored three times in the bottom of the fifth to go ahead and added two more runs in the sixth to secure an 11-6 victory and a spot in the state semifinals Friday in Akron’s Firestone Stadium.
It will be the first trip to the state tournament in school history for the Eagles.
Eastwood (29-3), ranked No. 6 in the state, faces No. 1 Bloom-Carroll (27-3) at 10 a.m. Friday. Bloom-Carroll posted a 5-1 win over Chillicothe Zane Trace to advance.
“It’s very exciting and emotional. I’m not a real emotional guy, but I am a little bit today,” Eastwood coach Joe Wyant. “Our girls just didn’t give up. I’m proud of the way we played and they didn’t hang their heads after letting them come back.”
“It’s really awesome for our group of seniors to lead the team in going there,” Eastwood senior Emily Helm said. “It’s just an amazing feeling; it’s been our goal since freshman year.”
Sophomore Krista Jennings, who had a key two-RBI hit in the first inning, said, “It’s unbelievable, so crazy and awesome to be able to do that.”
Chloe Otten’s long home run gave Sandy Valley a 2-0 lead in the top of the first.
Eastwood then sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first, and despite having only two hits in the inning, the Eagles scored six runs. Eastwood took advantage of three walks and two fielder’s choices, on which Sandy Valley could not get an out. Anna Rahrig had a two-RBI single in the first inning and Jennings capped the inning with a two-out, two-RBI double.
“We never give up. We are just like, ‘Bounce back,’ ” Jennings said. “When they do that it just makes us want it even more.
“Coach Wyant is always like, ‘Never give up, you guys can do this, you can come back.’ He’s really supportive.”
Sandy Valley (22-8) scored once in the second inning, and then Abbie Hughes tied the score at 6-all with a three-run home run in the top of the fifth inning.
Eastwood again countered right away with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Diana Bushman hit an RBI single to make it 7-6, and the Eagles added two runs on a throwing error.
Cassidy Rolf’s two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning closed out the scoring.
“Our team works so well together, we just have that much confidence in each other,” Helm said. “We just know that everyone can hit and everyone can contribute. We have confidence in everybody, and that’s a good feeling to have.”