Central Catholic and freshman pitcher Erin Seiler sought redemption in a Division II district softball semifinal against Eastwood yesterday afternoon at Rolf Park.
Less than 24 hours after losing 8-3 and giving up 17 hits to Clay in the City League championship game, Seiler struck out 11 batters and led the Irish to a 4-3 win over another team of Eagles.
"That was awful," Seiler said of the loss to Clay. "We did not come out focused. We had the motivation from that to redeem ourselves. We came out to prove ourselves."
Seiler allowed six hits and her team backed her with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings and sealed it with two more in the sixth.
Central (18-8) advances to tomorrow's district final.
"It was a great battle between two evenly matched teams," Central coach Norm Kujawa said. "I'm really happy with the way we bounced back after a big loss. I was a little concerned about our focus. But we got the job done."
Eastwood (20-4) had its postseason hopes dashed and a
16-game winning streak snapped. But the Eagles already have clinched a share of the Suburban Lakes League title and could win it outright with a win over Gibsonburg today.
"Their pitcher did a great job and we did not play as well as we normally do," Eastwood coach Joe Wyant said. "We made a few mistakes that we don't normally make."
Central broke through with the first run in the fourth. Senior Fallon Matuszewski doubled to lead off and later scored on a throwing error to make it 1-0.
Eastwood responded with a run in the bottom of the inning. Senior Brooke Albright scored on junior Kerri Gangwer's solid infield single to tie it at 1.
Ashley Sujkowski struck again for Central in the next inning with an infield single that scored pinch runner Monica Klonowski for a 2-1 lead.
But Eastwood sophomore pitcher Christine Foster, who gave up six hits, escaped further damage despite allowing seven batters to reach the plate. With the bases loaded and one out, Foster coaxed two ground outs.
Her teammates tied it in the bottom of the fifth. Junior Kristin Martin doubled to the center field fence and scored on a passed ball. Seiler struck out the next batter to end the inning.
"I like to keep the hitters off balance. I change speeds and use a lot of movement," Seiler said.
The passed ball would come into play again as the Irish benefited from the miscue to break the tie when Maggie Stein made it 3-2. Ashleigh Whitacre then drove in Klonowski on a solid single for a 4-2 Irish lead.
"They're a good hitting team and we just tried to match them," Seiler said.
Eastwood refused to go away as Martin smacked a solo home run in the seventh. Martin, who went 2-for-3 with a double, scored twice.
"We had our chances, we just left too many on base," said
Wyant, whose team stranded five runners. "We never gave up. Our kids battled."
Seiler got two more ground outs to end the game.
Whitacre and Kellie Thornton had two hits apiece and Klonow-
ski scored twice for Central.
Kujawa said Seiler averages about 11 strikeouts per game.
"[The loss to Clay] was the first time she's been hit that hard probably in her life," Kujawa said. "We talked about refocusing. She had a single purpose that she would not get beat today."
Seiler struck out at least one batter in every inning except the sixth.
"We just came out with the mind-set that we would win," Seiler said.
In a Division I district semifinal at Rolf Park, Northview took a 5-0 lead over Whitmer and then held on for a 5-4 win.
Northview pitcher Ali Sayre earned the win as she pitched five scoreless innings. But the Wildcats then committed five errors.
Whitmer scored three in the sixth and one in the seventh, but Wildcats reliever Aly Matthews earned the save.
Katelyn Dobson went 2-for-3 and scored a run, while Matthews was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Northview advances to the district final tomorrow at Rolf Park against the winner of today's semifinal between St. Ursula and Southview.
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