BOWLING GREEN - Clay pitcher Kasey Graham has been the definition of a staff ace this week.
The junior right-hander has started the last three games for the Eagles and carried her team to victories in all three, which also just happened to be elimination contests.
After leading Clay to wins over Whitmer and Central Catholic in the City League playoffs Sunday and Monday, Graham was back in the circle yesterday for an 8-0 win over Springfield in a district semifinal at Bowling Green High School.
In her last 20 innings, Graham has allowed just two runs.
"The Graham kid, she's had to pitch three days in a row, and you cannot say enough about that," Springfield coach Rob Gwozdz said. "She was fantastic."
Springfield s Brittany Richberg, right, is tagged out by Clay s Eryn Simon. Simon helped the Eagles offense with a home run.
Against Springfield, Graham surrendered just five hits while striking out two and not allowing a runner to reach third base.
"It was exciting," Graham said. "I was really confident coming in - we all were - because we've been hitting very well lately, and our defense has been almost flawless.
"[But] I didn't expect a shutout because they're such a good hitting team."
The Eagles (22-5) gave Graham an early cushion, putting a run on the board by virtue of some miscues by the Blue Devils in the top of the first.
After freshman center fielder Kim Crawford reached on an error and stole second, junior second baseman Eryn Simon dropped a bloop RBI single into left on a
1-2 offering from Springfield
junior Ashlyn Michalak.
Following another error that
allowed cleanup hitter Sarah Stibaner to reach base, Michalak managed to escape further damage by striking out the next two batters.
Simon was back wreaking havoc in her next at-bat, though, crushing another 1-2 offering from Michalak over the left field fence to give Clay a 2-0 lead.
Simon finished 2-for-4.
"Eryn Simon is probably the hottest hitter in northwest Ohio and [probably] one of the top
hitters in all of Ohio," Gwozdz said.
Joining Simon in Clay's surge was Stibaner, who was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, and third baseman Lindsey Wise, who added an RBI triple in the third and finished 2-for-4.
"It was a good team effort," Clay coach Brenda Radabaugh said. "The bats are coming alive at the right time. We've been playing tough competition throughout the season just to prepare us for this.
"We lost to [Springfield] earlier in the year 5-2 in the NLL/City League challenge, so this was nice. We were much more aggressive with the bats [yesterday]."
Clay advances to the district final, where it will face Sandusky at 5 p.m. tomorrow at Tiffin University.
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