Wildcats advance in sectional play

RICHMOND – The wait was worth it.

Edison first base coach Leah Eft said she wanted some action at first base, and though it took a while she finally got what she wanted in the top of the eighth inning.

The Wildcats used a little small ball to perfection to plate three runs in the eighth to break open a scoreless game to lead the Edison softball team to a 3-0 victory over Beaver Local in an Ohio Division II Eastern District Sectional quarterfinal Tuesday evening at Jefferson Lake State Park.

The Wildcats have advanced to the sectional semifinals. Edison, the No. 4 seed, will take on No. 1 seed Indian Creek at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

“It was a well played game by both teams,” Edison (10-13) head coach Spencer Bendle said. “Both pitchers threw good games. Both defenses made some nice plays that kept their teams in the ballgame.

“It came down to which team could do the little things well enough to push runs across. We did a good job of that in the eighth inning.”

The game proved to be another heartbreaker for the Beavers.

“We have played many games like that during the season but we never could come out on top,” Beaver Local (7-12) head coach Mark Cashdollar said. “It came down to one inning. We made a couple of mistakes, and we folded there for a little bit.

“We played so hard for so long. We just couldn’t score.”

Tiff Martin, Edison’s No. 9 hitter, started the eighth inning by reaching on an error. Lead-off batter Madison Hunter followed with a single and both moved up as part of double steal.

Kayli Stewart reached on a fielder’s choice as Martin slid safely into the plate to give the girls from Jefferson County a 1-0 advantage. Hunter advanced to third on the play, and Stewart took second base.

Lynsey Morrison reached on another fielder’s choice, and Hunter came into score for a 2-0 lead. No one for Beaver Local covered second base, and Morrison took off for the bag. The Beaver’s attempted to throw Morrison out, but the ball bounced off a fielder’s leg allowing Stewart to score the third run of the inning.

Morrison ended up on third on the play and was stranded there, but the damage was already done.

“That is something we have tried to work on,” Bendle said about his team’s aggressive base running in the eighth inning. “We always tell them to not be satisfied with taking just one base. We want them to be aggressive on the bases. We got some bunts down, and we were able to make that happen.

“When it works, you look real good. When it doesn’t work, you look foolish. We came through when we needed to today.”

Zoe Westfall picked up the win. She struck out three while walking two. Edison had three hits – Stewart doubled and Morrison and Hunter singled.

Courtney Messenger recorded the loss. She also struck out three and issued two free passes.

“She pitched well,” Cashdollar said. “We did a lot of good things today except for scoring runs. We made some nice plays.

“It was a game won by a couple mistakes. We just could not score.

“We will be right back again next year.”

The Beavers recorded singles by Bailee Rinestine, Maranda Kiddey, Paige Prologo and Danna Talbott.

As it turned out, Edison’s Caitlin Brenstuhl proved to be the hero defensively for the Wildcats.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Talbott, the visitor’s No. 9 hitter, singled down the right-field line. Brenstuhl came up cleanly with the ball and she fired a strike to shortstop Skylar Frankhauser, who tagged Talbott out at second as she attempted to turn the single into a double.

“Caitlin made a couple real nice plays defensively,” Bendle said. “She came in and caught that line drive. Then, she made a good hustle play when she got that ball down line, and she threw a one-hopper to the bag.

“We talk all the time that if we have good pitching and good defense we are going to have a chance to win the game. We made a couple real-nice plays defensively.”

The girls from Columbiana County got a runner on base with one out in the eighth, but a double play ended the game.

Teams want to peak at the end of the season, and the Wildcats are doing just that as Edison is playing its best ball of the season.

“I think we are,” Bendle said. “We are getting good pitching. We are playing a lot better defensively. I think we have won six out of our last eight games. We are playing our best ball of the season, and this is when you like to have it.”

As they game went on, the Wildcats never panicked. Edison has faced tough opposition all year, and playing stiff competition helps out in close games.

“I like to think so,” Bendle said. “We always try to play a tough schedule. We play a schedule where it challenges you to get better, or you will get embarrassed. We played a tough schedule this season. We have played a lot of good teams. We have done that in the past, and we will continue to do that.

“The spring has been tough on everyone. We have started and stopped three or four times this season. It has been rough on everybody. I’m happy we get a chance to play another day.”

The Wildcats know they will be in for a challenge against the Redskins.

“Absolutely,” Bendle said. “It all starts with their battery. Their catcher Abby Orr and (Paige) Geanangel work well together. As a battery, they are tough to beat.

“The team behind them has started to grow. They have started to hit the ball better. They are a good ball team. It is going to be a challenge for us.

“We are going to have to find a way to muster some runs. We stranded some runners today. We stranded too many runners early in the game. You can’t do that against Indian Creek. You have to be able to take advantage of your opportunities against them.”

The game was the final one for Beaver Local’s five seniors – Kaitlyn Gibson, Erika Withrow, Kiddey Prologo and Talbott.

“I want to give credit to Mark Cashdollar and to Beaver Local,” Bendle said. “They played right with us pitch by pitch and out by out. They played seven strong innings. They played good ball today.”

Tournament action continues at 5 p.m. today when Big Red plays Buckeye Local in the first semifinal matchup.

In case today’s game is rained out, there will be a doubleheader starting at 4 p.n. Thursday. Big Red will play the Panthers in the opener, while the Wildcats will face the Redskins in the nightcap.