AKRON — The Eastwood softball team may find some comfort that the best season in program history ended at the hands of perhaps the best team in Ohio on Friday.
Eastwood ran into a buzz saw in the Division III state semifinals at Firestone Stadium as the Eagles lost 11-1 to top-ranked Bloom-Carroll.
The Bulldogs, who reached the state final last season, scored seven runs in the first inning and went on to win by the mercy rule after five innings.
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Bloom-Carroll (28-3) pounded out 12 hits, while Eastwood (29-4) committed five errors in the game.
Bloom-Carroll sophomore pitcher Taran Alvelo, who has committed to play at the University of Washington, gave up just one hit.
“They are a very good team, obviously,” Eastwood coach Joe Wyant said.
“We played hard after that first inning. If [Alvelo] throws like that and they get half as many hits, they will win the state tournament. It’s not a consolation. But at least we got knocked out by what I think will be the best team in the state — maybe in a couple other divisions too.”
The Bulldogs led 7-0 before sixth-ranked Eastwood batted. Alvelo smacked a three-run home run to make it 4-0.
“That was a big reliever,” Alvelo said. “There was a little stress there. To be able to come out and put that many runs on, you can take a step back and take a deep breath.”
The Bulldogs added two runs in the second and two more in the third. Bloom-Carroll, which is located near Columbus, won D-III state titles in 2006 and 2007.
Eastwood senior Emily Helm broke up the no-hit bid with two outs in the final inning. Pinch runner Morgan Corns scored on the RBI single that ended the shutout.
“When I went up to bat I wanted to make sure I did something for the team,” Helm said. “I at least got a hit to keep the game going. We gave it our best effort to try to come back.”
Eastwood senior pitcher Whitney Foster gave up five hits in the first inning, and the Eagles committed three errors.
“I was going through what else I could throw to these batters that they’re not going to hit,” Foster said. “They were pulling drop curves to the left side of the field. I was stuck. The team played pretty solid. I just didn’t throw my best today, and it showed.”
The Eagles looked they might get out of the first when catcher Anna Rahrig dropped a throw that beat the runner to the plate. Another fielding error then allowed the Bulldogs to make it 7-0.
Eastwood ended the second inning with a double play as third baseman Cassidy Rolf tagged third and threw the runner out at first. But the Bulldogs had made it 9-0 on three hits and two errors.
Eastwood had just three runners reach base safely. Rahrig reached in the second on catchers’ interference. But Bloom-Carroll turned a double play to end the inning. The Bulldogs then tacked on two more runs on three hits in the third for an 11-0 lead.
The Eagles had trouble catching up to Alvelo.
“We’re not used to that fast of pitching,” Foster said. “We were coming up there just swinging. But after a few innings, we turned it up a bit and we were making more contact. We just didn’t put it in play in the right spots.”
Wyant said Alvelo was throwing her fastball around 62 miles per hour and down to 52 on a changeup.
“We've faced good pitchers all year. But we haven’t faced one that throws as hard as she does,” he said. “She threw a couple changeups that baffled us.”
Eastwood reached the state final four for the first time in program history.
The Eagles are 53-8 over the last two seasons.
“It's been a great experience,” Wyant said.
“These five seniors have started for me for three years. They’ve done a great job. I don’t think anyone in our area has gone 53-8 in the last two years. We haven’t experienced losing very often. They are very special to me.”