ASHLAND - St. Ursula squandered too many run-scoring opportunities, although the Arrows' last attempt came agonizingly close to sending them back to the state championship game.
Instead, No. 3-ranked St. Ursula fell 2-0 to unranked Harrison in a Division I state semifinal before 300 fans yesterday.
The Arrows trailed by two, but loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Audrey Tucholski lined a shot down the left-field line but it hit the ground less than a foot into foul territory.
"At the state level, you need a bounce here or there, and if Audrey's shot is over another foot it's fair and it clears the bases," said St. Ursula coach Steve Parrill.
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But Tucholski popped out, and the Arrows ended up leaving the bases loaded.
"An inch here or there can mean a win or a loss," Tucholski said. "It just didn't go in our favor this time."
The Arrows left eight runners stranded.
"In a game like this you have to capitalize on your opportunities," Parrill said. "When you load the bases and hit a ball foul like that that's just what the game of softball is. We just didn't come up with the big hit and 28 times this year we did."
St. Ursula (28-3) fell just two games short of defending its 2004 state title. Senior pitcher Hayley Wiemer (23-3) finished her career in her usual dominating fashion. Wiemer allowed only three hits and struck out 12. Both runs were unearned.
"It really was a good year. We overcame a lot," said Wiemer, who will play at Bowling Green State University. "But we didn't want it to end here."
Harrison scored the decisive runs in the third inning, when it got two of its three hits. The leadoff batter reached on an infield error and scored on a double by Ashley Hudson. Amanda Glacken then drove in Hudson, who had advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, with a single deep into the hole at short.
St. Ursula left five runners on base in the first three innings.
Senior Chelsey Jones led off the first with a single. The Arrows then had runners at first and second with one out in the second inning, but Wildcat pitcher Sarah Beatty (18-4) came up with back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.
Junior Alyssa Frobase doubled in the next inning, and Wiemer was intentionally walked. But senior Siera Reichler popped out to end the threat.
Parrill pointed out that three of the four Arrow seniors had hits in the game. He also said Wiemer established her changeup and located her fastball well.
"They're hurtin' like crazy right now and I'm hurtin' like crazy. Most of them are crying," Parrill said. "But someday after the dust settles, they will be very proud of themselves."
Tucholski said Beatty, who coaxed 14 flyball outs, threw slower than all of the pitchers the Arrows had seen lately and they couldn't adjust to the change in speed. She said she was just trying to put the ball in play when she barely missed giving her team the lead in the sixth inning.
Frobase was hit by a pitch and Wiemer and Siera Reichler followed with bloop singles. Freshman Alyssa Schultz then struck out. Tucholski then drilled the foul ball down the line.
"That's not what I was thinking about," Tucholski said. "I was just trying to get my team going. You can't go out on top every time, I guess."
Tucholski then popped out to short, and Kelly Krueger then grounded out to short to end the threat. Harrison (25-8), which is located on the state's extreme southwestern boarder, will play Uniontown Lake (28-3) in the state final here tomorrow.
"Our goal was to win it, but for us to get this far is a great thing," Parrill said.
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