RICHMOND - The Buckeye Local softball team put up eight runs in the first three innings of its Division II Sectional semifinal game against Edison and then backed up pitcher Angela Primovic with strong defense en route to a 9-4 win at Jefferson Lake State Park Wednesday.
"This girl's (Primovic) given us fits for the last couple years now," said Edison head coach Spencer Bendle. "I go back to last year, I think she pitched a few innings against us and I don't think we hit the ball real well against her then. She's thrown three times against us this year and she just has our number.
"She did a nice job again today. Let's give that pitcher credit."
CELEBRATION -- Buckeye Local’s Kaylee DeCesare is congratulated by her teammates after blasting a solo shot.
-- Fred Younce
The Wildcats drew first blood in the top of the first. With two outs Trisha Trifonoff reached base on the Panthers only error of the day and Kayla Prokopakis took care of things from there with a round tripper to make the score 2-0 Edison.
"They have enough confidence in themselves hitting the ball," said Buckeye Local head coach Joe Soos of his team after they fell behind early. "They've been hitting the ball all year, and I didn't think two for them was going to get it done today. I felt really confident we were going to hit the ball and we did. We've been hitting it all year.
"When you can do that you can go out and just play the game."
And play the game they did.
In the bottom of the frame Buckeye got one of those runs back. Dana Bettineschi reached first on a fielder's choice and then took second with a stolen base. Bettineschi took third on a Karlee Leonard single and then crossed home plate when Kierstyn Czuchran picked up a single of her own to cut the lead to 2-1.
After the Wildcats went down in order in the top of the second, the Panthers struck in the bottom half of the frame. Lauren Swiger led the inning off with a single and took second on an error. She scored two batters later when Sydney Omaits reached on an error and ended up on second.
Omaits advanced to third on a Taryn Tonkovich two-out base knock and was driven home on a Bettineschi single. Leonard and Czuchran drove home Tonkovich and Bettineschi with singles for a 5-2 advantage.
"Location might have been a little bit of an issue at times," said Bendle. "For the most part, they had a lot of seeing eye hits though. They hit the ball just out of the reach of our infield.
"Give Buckeye credit. They were able to find the holes to get the ball through the infield."
Another Edison goose egg led to the Panthers going right back to work in the bottom of the third. Kaylee DeCesare led the inning off with a solo shot over the left field fence. Omaits and Tonkovich reached base on a walk and an error respectively and ultimately both touched home plate to make the score 8-2 Buckeye Local after three.
The scored stayed that way until the top of the fifth when Kayla Prokopakis struck again for the Wildcats. After Kristin Prokopakis slapped a single to left Kayla came up two batters later and drove a shot to left field for her second two-run dinger of the game for an 8-4 count.
Buckeye added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Bettineschi led off with a single and two batters later Tori Nest drove her in with a two-out base knock for Bettineschi's third run scored of the game and the 9-4 Panthers' lead.
Bettineschi also made herself known in the top of the seventh with the game-ending play. Caitlyn Brenstuhl sat on second with two outs after her second double of the game.
Trifonoff hit a hard groundball between short and third where Bettineschi made a nice play to scoop up the ball. Trifonoff had the play beat out for a single and what looked to be runners on first and third, but Bettineschi made a heads up play to make the toss to third just in time to allow the third baseman, Leonard, to apply the tag to Brenstuhl and secure the 9-4 Panthers' win.
"Smart play defensively and there was a back up by the right fielder the inning before to get a runner going to second," said Soos. "They've been in position all year long and once in a while it pays off. Hats off to them because they're doing what they're supposed to do.
"Four of the last five games we've had shutouts so our defense has been playing real well. Hopefully it continues for at least a couple more games."
The loss ended the season for the Wildcats.
"Every year you have a group of seniors that leave and its hard," said Bendle. "You get to liking them and you develop a good camaraderie with them I have a good bunch.
"I've had fun with them and I wish them a lot of luck down the road. We'll regroup and come back next year."
For the Panthers, Indian Creek awaits them today at Jefferson Lake State Park with the sectional title on the line.
"We've played them twice and beat them twice, but I'll tell you what, they're a good team," said Soos. "It's going to be a knock down drag out affair.
"Their pitching is really good and they can hit the ball too. It ought to be a heck of a game (today).
"If people aren't doing anything they should come watch."
Buckeye Local 9, Edison 4
Edison 200 020 0 - 4 10 4
Buckeye Local 143 001 x - 9 11 1
EDISON: TICE (LP, 1K, 3BB), Westfall (3rd, 2K, 0BB) and Sheets. Kr. Prokopakis s, r; Brenstuhl 2d; Trifonoff s, r; Ka. Prokopakis 2hr, s, 4rbi, 2r; Smith 2s; Judy s.
BUCKEYE LOCAL: Primovic (WP, 2K, 0BB) and Nest. Tonkovich s, 2r; Bettineschi 2s, rbi, 3r; Leonard 3s, 2rbi; Czuchran 2s, 2rbi; Nest s, rbi; Swiger s, r; Decesare hr, rbi, r; Omaits 2r.