Northern Lakes League foes Springfield and Perrysburg each moved up a rung on the tournament ladder Tuesday night, taking Division I district semifinal softball victories at Maumee’s Rolf Park.
Springfield’s Blue Devils got home runs from Kyleigh Conner and Kelsey Uhl, and rode the solid pitching of freshman Taylor Turner in a 7-1 win against perennial Three Rivers Athletic Conference power Clay.
IN PICTURES: Springfield defeats Clay, Perrysburg downs Southview
And in a slugfest, fifth-ranked NLL leader Perrysburg pounced on fellow league member Southview early, then had to hold off a rally by the Cougars to take a 12-8 win.
Springfield (19-5) and Perrysburg (20-1-1) will meet for the district championship at 5 p.m. Friday here.
Springfield and Clay (18-9) traded solo home runs to kick off the scoring in their matchup, with the Blue Devils’ Conner slamming a Lindsay Roberts pitch over the left-field fence in the second inning, and the Eagles’ Bekah Yenrick pounding a Turner pitch over the fence in center in the third to make it 1-1.
“The defense helped and we had a lot of hits today,” said Turner, who allowed only three Clay hits and struck out eight. “I just had to keep my composure after the home run Yenrick hit.
“My changeup and drop-curve definitely worked today, and I was spotting my fastball. [Yenrick] is a great hitter, and when I gave that up I just said, kudos to her.”
The Blue Devils regained the lead in the fourth, with Conner drawing a one-out walk, advancing on a two-out single by Erika Case and scoring on Alyssa Homer’s single.
“I just felt it was my turn to get the rally started,” Conner said of her earlier homer. “We wanted to keep putting runs on the board and play defense. We were loud in the dugout, and the passion was there.”
Springfield took advantage of a Clay error to add a run in the fifth. Eagles third baseman Regan Stager threw wildly to first on a slow grounder off the bat of Jo Reuling, who advanced to second on the play.
Reuling reached third on Kelsey Uhl’s groundout, then scored on a squeeze bunt single by Hannah Joseph.
Springfield blew the game open with a four-run sixth inning, which was highlighted by Uhl’s three-run homer to center, her 10th of the season.
“We had a couple opportunities earlier in the game too, and we just couldn’t get that one hit we wanted,” Springfield coach Rob Gwozdz said of his team breaking things open. “We can hit. We broke the school home run record tonight. We have 29 now, and the previous record was 27, so we know we’ve got some kids who can stick it.”
Singles by Joseph, Allison LaPoint, and Conner (RBI) closed the Devils’ scoring.
“Give credit to Springfield,” Clay coach Brenda Radabaugh said. “They’re a very good team, and they battled for it. I think they may have wanted it just a little bit more than we did today. I’m disappointed in our defense. If we could take away the unearned runs, it’s a very close game, and then we’ve got more options late.”
Clay, which committed three errors, turns its attention to securing their fifth straight TRAC title. The Eagles hold a one-game lead over Notre Dame with conference games remaining against Whitmer and Central Catholic.
In the other semifinal, Perrysburg erupted for six runs in the first against Southview starter Jessie Richie.
Caity Reighard sparked that rally, reaching on a one-out error, then scoring on Brooke Miller’s double. After Bri Pratt flied out, Mars Orta-Deemer had an RBI single, Reyann Kruger singled, and Molly Kardos reached on an error by Richie to load the bases.
They were unloaded a pitch later when Kate Dheel delivered a grand slam to center for a 6-0 Yellow Jackets lead.
“I’m glad that everyone came out and hit and made sure we had a cushion,” Dheel said. “When I came up [with bases loaded], I said to myself, ‘Keep your head down and make contact, and drive some runs in.’ I did that.”
Perrysburg added four more runs in the second inning, this time ignited by a one-out Miller single. Pratt followed with a two-run home run.
After Orta-Deemer and Kruger followed with singles and moved up on Kardos’ groundout, Dheel (3 for 4, six RBIs) added a two-run double to left-center for a 10-0 Jackets advantage.
Southview (11-10) began cutting into the Jackets’ lead in the fourth inning, producing a run off of singles from Brianna Abel, Madi Duling, and Emma Gerken.
After Orta-Deemer relieved Pratt, the Cougars began a four-run rally in the fifth.
Reili Swiczkowski opened that inning with walk, and scored on Emilie Jump’s triple. Jump scored on a wild pitch, and Melanie Monagan walked and advanced two bases on passed balls.
Pinch-hitter Alyssa Zervos added an RBI single and later scored on a groundout. Swiczkowski, batting for the second time in the inning, delivered an RBI single to cut the deficit to 10-6.
“We don’t mail anything in,” Southview coach Ken Campradt said. “The girls fought hard, and they came back. We gave them the best fight we could today. They hit the ball, and we gave them a couple [extra] opportunities, and they took advantage of it.”
The Jackets added single runs in the fifth and sixth to support Pratt, who returned to the mound to replace Orta-Deemer in Southview’s five-run fifth. It helped offset a two-run homer by Swiczkowski (2 for 3) in the top of the seventh.
“We jumped out to the big lead and then our energy kind of fizzled in the dugout,” Perrysburg coach Ryan DeMars said of the game’s momentum shift. “Our kids feed off of their own energy, and when it doesn’t have that energy, we don’t play as well.”
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