CLYDE — Clay’s bats persevered once again, digging the Eagles out of a precarious position in a Division I regional softball semifinal on Wednesday.
Clay saw its two-run cushion in the seventh inning over Anthony Wayne disappear on two errors. The Eagle offense remained composed and pushed across the winning run for a 4-3 triumph over the Generals.
Senior Lindsay Schiavone won the game with a walk-off single.
“Our hitting has bailed us out of a lot of tricky situations,” she said. “That felt amazing. We knew we only had to score one run.”
Schiavone’s sophomore sister, Hayley, went 2 for 3 with two doubles and drove in the tying run in the third.
“It always feels good to get a hit and get a run for your team,” Hayley said.
“I just focused and hit the ball. It’s nice to see [Lindsay] come through. That felt awesome. We cheer for each other.”
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Clay junior pitcher Brooke Gallaher scattered seven hits and struck out seven. The Generals had tied it with two runs on one hit and two errors in the seventh.
“That was a roller coaster ride,” Clay coach Brenda Radabaugh said. “We looked like we were in control and then we had a miscue. It was very emotional. But they are kids and mistakes happen. But we kept battling and persevered. We stayed upbeat and positive.”
The Eagles (26-3), who are ranked No. 9 in the D-I state poll, advance to play either Elyria (24-5) or Cleveland St. Joseph Academy (13-18) in the regional final at noon Saturday at Clyde.
Those teams meet today in the regional semis.
The game was played in breezy, warm conditions with occasional gusts straight in from center. Clay held a 3-1 lead and the Generals were down to their final two outs when they rallied to tie it.
McKenzie Rhodes and Haley Olvera walked to spark the comeback. Cassie Kaptur singled and Rhodes tried to score from second.
The throw from left fielder Haley Dominique beat her home but catcher Emily Novak dropped the ball to make it 3-2.
Olvera scored on an error when a high pop up into the wind dropped in between the second baseman and right fielder to tie it at 3.
Anthony Wayne freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Ray gave up just four hits and struck out six. The Generals’ defense committed four errors, leading to all four Eagle runs.
“They got four unearned runs and it’s hard to win,” AW coach Carolyn Vogtsberger said. “If we could have been clean, I know we can play with them.
"I’m proud of our kids, we just made key mistakes.”
Anthony Wayne (18-11), which has no seniors on its roster, stranded nine runners. Clay beat AW for the third time this season and all three were one-run games.
“We had lots of mistakes, but remember we are young,” Vogtsberger said. “But they battled.”
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Clay sophomore Brooke Gyori led off by reaching on an error. Gyori advanced to second on Honnah Susor’s sacrifice bunt. Lindsay Schiavone, the No. 2 hitter, smacked a bouncing grounder up the middle, easily scoring the speedy Susor for the walk-off win.
“I hadn’t done much for my team at bat,” Lindsay said. “So I wanted to keep calm and meet the ball. I was nervous, but I just relaxed. That felt really good.”
Radabaugh said the team has been successful all year with late rallies.
“The kids know anyone can come through with the hit, anywhere in the order,” she said.
Down 1-0, Clay scored three runs on just one hit in the third inning. Hayley Schiavone doubled in Susor, who had walked, to tie it at 1. Schiavone and pinch runner Courtney Quinlan scored when Dominique’s line shot deflected off of shortstop Autumn Dickey’s glove for a 3-1 Eagle lead.
The Generals took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning. Maddy Kistner and Kaley Corcoran both singled. Kistner scored when Gallaher walked Rhodes with the bases loaded. Gallaher escaped the bases loaded, one-out situation with a pop out and strike out.
“We’re taking the next step and going for the regional,” Radabaugh said. “We have another big game on Saturday.
"And then anything can happen when you get down to states.”
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.