DAYTON – Bishop Ready took advantage of some hard-hit balls and a few mistakes by West Liberty-Salem to down the Tigers, 4-2, in a Division III softball regional semifinal at Wright State on Wednesday.
“We definitely beat ourselves. We weren’t disciplined like we normally are. I think the nerves got the best of some of the girls,” WL-S Coach Kenleigh Farris said. “We definitely took ourselves out of the game and some opportunities. I wish we could have some of those innings back, but we’re just going to have to learn from it. Especially the underclassmen – take this and move forward with it next year.”
Ready got on the board in the bottom of the first inning with a single and a double, followed by a pair of passed balls that allowed the runners to score.
“I thought a lot of things were just uncharacteristic. We knew we were playing a really great team and we needed to be a little cleaner than we were and that just didn’t happen,” Farris said.
The Tigers struck back immediately, tying the game in the top of the second inning when Dierdre McGill smacked a double down the right field line, scoring both Hallie and Kelby Strapp with two outs. McGill ended up at third on a fielding error.
The defense continued to be spotty for WL-S, with some flashy plays and some rough ones. Ready added another run in the second when a ball went between the legs of Mady Stratton at shortstop. Hallie Strapp backed her up in left and made a perfect throw to the plate, but the runner deftly dodged the tag by Kenedie Cox.
For the next few innings, Ready threatened a couple of times, most notably in the third inning with runners on second and third with just one out.
A ball got smashed to senior Kiana Reames at third base, who made a move to first – complete with pump fake – that caught the lead runner off the bag at third, looking to score. Reames whirled and shot the ball back to Stratton, over to cover the bag, and cut her down for the second out. A batter later, fellow senior Olivia Ames made a nice running grab in right center to end the inning.
“Our seniors played great tonight, so it’ll be difficult filling those holes next year, but it’s also something we’re looking forward to doing,” Farris said.
A bizarre play occurred in the fifth inning with one out that afforded Ready its final run.
With runners on first and second, the batter hit a short single. The lead runner stopped at third, but the trailing runner rounded second and headed for third, unaware her teammate had stopped.
The Tigers tagged her out, but the call was either not clear enough or misheard, because the runner continued to jog back and forth as if she were in play. This confused the Tigers, who threw the ball back to second base as both the runner on first and the now “out” player converged on the bag. That throw sailed a bit and allowed the runner on third to scamper home, with a throw to the plate sailing over the head of Cox.
Farris went out to argue obstruction, as the Ready player who had been called out had certainly drawn the throw to second base that had allowed the lead runner to score, if she had not officially interfered with the play. It seemed as though the situation should, at worst for WL-S, be runners at the corners with two outs, if not inning over.
However, the coach was given a cold shoulder and returned to the dugout, accepting responsibility after the game instead of blaming the umpire.
“We shouldn’t have thrown the ball away from the lead runner. That’s something we know better than to do, especially when it’s a close game,” she said.
The Tigers picked up the energy level after that snafu, but it wasn’t enough. Kelby Strapp hit a double to left field with Hallie Strapp on first in the seventh, but Hallie was cut down at the plate when Farris waved her around third at a full gallop.
For the Tigers, Ames finished 2-for-2 with a walk, Kelby Strapp was 2-for-3 with a double and McGill was 2-for-3 with a double and 2 RBI. They left five runners stranded in scoring position.
“The intensity in the last inning was something I wish I’d seen more of during the game, but I liked the way they fought back. I couldn’t have been more proud of them,” Farris said.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.