Northview took a punch from Southview in the top of the first inning last night in the Division I district softball final. After the Wildcats escaped unscathed, they settled down and came away with a 1-0 victory at Rolf Park in Maumee.
Northview, with an 11-16 record, is district champion and advances to play Clay in a regional semifinal at Clyde on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
"The last couple weeks we've played some really good ball and beaten some nice teams," Northview coach Rick Schneider said. "Every team in [the Northern Lakes League] prepares us for the tournament. Our league is so tough. Our girls have really come together and gelled at the right time."
Northview junior Hanna Hulli-
barger's RBI double in the fifth was the difference in the game. Senior lefty Ali Sayre earned the win for the Wildcats by pitching six scoreless innings.
"We finally realized what we're capable of," Sayre said. "After we beat Anthony Wayne [Monday] we knew we could beat anyone."
Shelby Schuster started off the game for Southview (16-10) with a single and advanced to second on a fielding error. Schuster was at third with one out when Southview tried a suicide squeeze. But her twin sister, Amanda Schuster, couldn't make contact with the ball and Shelby was tagged out in a rundown.
Northview committed another error in the inning but Sayre stayed steady and got out of it with no damage.
"Once we shook the nerves off, we just played defense and as a team," Sayre said.
For the second straight day, Southview sophomore Olivia O'Reilly pitched well, allowing two singles through the first four innings. But she walked Natalie DiCola with one out in the fifth.
With two outs, Hulli-
barger smacked the first pitch to the center field fence to break the tie.
"She was pretty consistent with her first-pitch strikes and it was right down the middle," Hullibarger said.
Sayre allowed just four hits and retired the final 12 Southview batters of the game.
"We just weren't able to get across a run at any point. If we can't score a run, we can't win a game," Southview coach Ryan DeMars said. "We should have been able to score. Ali Sayre did a great job pitching and kept us off the bases for the most part."
Other than Sayre's performance, Schneider was proud of his defense that tightened up after the first inning as well as the timely hitting.
"If you stay in a tight game, hang around long enough, you find a way to win," Schneider said. "Our girls have started to mature that way and we're discovering what it takes to be successful."