CAMBRIDGE - It was a heart-breaking loss that ended the season for the Harrison Central softball team as it fell to Garaway in 12 innings 5-3 Thursday. The intangibles are often the difference in a game and that would be the case in this OHSAA Softball Division III District Tournament championship.
"We should have put that game away before the end of regulation, obviously, and anything that happened after that we have to take some responsibility for," said Huskies' coach Don Bethel. "Our defense was very shoddy at times, overall we were not sharp."
The Pirates would score first in the top of the third inning, an unearned run following a pair of errors on the Harrison Central infield.
PLAY AT SECOND — Harrison Central’s Paige Dunlap reaches for the tag as Kara Miller of Garaway slides in to second base. Garaway topped the Huskies 5-3 in 12 innings in a Division III district championship.
-- Mike Palmer
After two error free frames it would be a miscue inning as Courtney Dowdle led off the bottom of the fifth taking advantage of an error on the Pirates shortstop. Ashley Heavilin drew the first walk off Garaway's pitcher and Paige Dunlap loaded the bases with a single setting the table for Shianne Nameth notching an RBI single to left center. Katie Ellzy's sacrifice fly added a run and Kara Dunfee drove in the third with her own ribbie.
Lexi Lingler, junior first baseman for the Pirates would have a huge game at the plate. A single in the fourth inning which a good throw from senior left fielder Roni Caldwell to cut down a runner attempting to score kept from being an RBI. A lead-off double in the sixth inning and scoring a run on a passed ball to close the gap to 3-2.
The Huskies struggled offensively but Garaway had gained some momentum in the sixth and used that enthusiasm to knot the score in the seventh. Kendall Reidenbach led off the inning with a double in the gap and with two outs Kendra Miller would push their first earned run across the plate with an RBI single to left field.
Garaway 5, Harrison Central 3
Garaway 001 001 100 002 - 5 9 3
Harrison 003 000 000 000 - 3 8 4
Garaway - Luneborg (5K, 3W) and Reidenbach, lingler HR, 2 rbi, D, S; Reidenbach D, S; Halstead S; Luneborg S; Immel S; Miller S.
Harrison - Ellzy (12K, 0W) and Saffell. C. Dowdle 2S; Dunfee S, rbi; Ellzy S, rbi; Nameth S, rbi; Dunlap S; Heavlin S; Jones S.
"Garaway made some extremely nice defensively plays to keep us off the board, we were right at the doorstep a number of times and they made the play to keep us form scoring and ending the game," Bethel said of the extra innings.
In the ninth inning Dunfee drew a lead-off walk. Caldwell bunted her over to second base and coach Bethel waved her home from there on a fly ball to left off the bat of Dowdle.
"It was a good decision to send her," Bethel said of the play. "It was going to take a perfect throw to get her out and it was a perfect throw, it was still very close but they did throw her out."
That ended the inning and the Huskies stranded another runner in the in the 10th.
"At the end of the game we had two plays where in my opinion the plate umpire influenced the outcome of the game and you don't like to see that," Bethel lamented. "It is tough when a player makes an error that changes the game, but it is more difficult to swallow when you have an official make game-changing mistakes."
"The bunt did not touch the runner, she bunted the ball down and she gets thrown out at first and the runner advanced, the only way the runner moves back out of scoring position is to have him get involved and say that somehow touched her," Bethel explained that the call would prevent the runner form having an opportunity to score from second base on an outfield hit later that inning.
Joelle Jones led off the inning reaching on just the second error by the Pirates. Freshman Alexia Dowdle came in to pinch run and Hanna Warrington sacrifice bunt moved her to second before the call of the home plate umpire sent the young Dowdle back to first base. The older Dowdle would double to right field one out later which could have scored the winning run.
"The umpire again influenced the outcome on a third strike that was clearly two inches above the bat on the swing that tipped off the catcher's mitt, which I believe was the sound he heard," Bethel said.
Kendra Miller would single to left field with one out in the 12th inning. Tristian Hostetler would sacrifice bunt her over to second bringing the hot bat of Lingler to the plate.
"The batter was headed back to the dug out and gets thrown out at first, he then calls it a foul tip and one pitch later is the home run. You can't even script a story like that, it is crazy."
Indeed after the official reprieve, the next pitch was right down the pike and the Pirates' big hitter put it out over the left-center field fence for the two run round tripper.
"Obviously, there's no way to know whether we would have prevailed after that inning, or whether Garaway would have come back to win anyway," Bethel qualified. "But that being said, both teams deserved an even shot at determining that themselves, rather than one benefiting from a clear mistake."
"I can't take anything away from Garaway and we wish them luck in Lancaster," said Bethel. "I am still very proud of my girls, they played hard for 12 innings."
"Katie pitched her way out of a lot of jams that we created for ourselves," Harrison Central's coach complimented one of the Ohio Valley's better pitcher's who had twelve strike outs in the ball game allowing no walks.
"You hate to see it end this way for our three seniors; Roni Caldwell (LF), Kara Dunfee (3B) and Paige Dunlap (SS)," Bethel concluded. "Some times no matter what you do it does not go your way."