Peebles tops Symmes Valley 6-4, Clay awaits on Saturday –
By Mark Carpenter –
It took nearly 24 hours to get through seven innings, but the wait turned out to be worthwhile for Coach Doug McFarland and his Peebles Lady Indians softball squad. After having their Division IV District semi-final contest with Symmes Valley suspended in the fourth inning on Tuesday by heavy thunderstorms, deadlocked at 4-4, the two teams returned to the University of Rio Grande on Wednesday afternoon to resume play.
The play resumed in the top of the fourth inning, where the Lady Indians picked up two runs, the only runs to cross the plate on Wednesday, and then held off the Lady Vikings and advanced for the second consecutive season to the district championship game with a 6-4 triumph.
“These were two days I’m happy with,” said Coach McFarland after the win. “We came back today and I thought we’d get a little better out of Madison (Pierce), I didn’t think she had her normal stuff yesterday, but she battled through. She really did a nice job of changing speeds and keeping them off-balance.”
“I give our kids credit, we came ready to play, but left a lot of runners on base. We had opportunities to break it open a little more than we did today and I wish we would have, but I’m just happy with the win. We hit a lot of hard shots right at people, but you can’t complain.”
Number two seeded Symmes Valley proved to be a worthy opponent for the Peebles squad, rallying from an early four-run deficit, and threatening often against Lady Indians’ starter Madison Pierce, but Peebles was able to get big outs when they needed them as they moved on to play Portsmouth Clay on Saturday for a district title..
Being the lower seed at number three, the Lady Indians had the game’s first at-bat and they took full advantage against Symmes Valley starter, southpaw Sarah Kingery. Lead off hitter Brycelyn Short walked, and one out later, Pierce did the same. Yet another free pass to clean up hitter Kylie Sims filled the bases. After a short fly out by McKenzie Swango failed to produce a run, third baseman Christian Reed came to the plate and took care of business, blasting a 1-2 pitch into the gap in right center, scoring all three runners, as Reed slid headfirst into third with a triple that gave Peebles the early advantage.
In the top of the second, the Lady Indians added one more to their lead. Matti Nichols singled with one out and came all the way around to score on a two-base hit by Hailey Moore, making it 4-0.
That lead evaporated quickly in the bottom of the second when the Lady Vikes came to bat. With one out, Emily Estep walked and moved over on a base hit by Kelsie Gothard. A line drive to right off the bat of Hailee Littlejohn got over the head of Peebles right fielder Hope Brown, allowing both runners to score and slice the Lady Indians’ lead in half.
After Pierce struck out Emily Sharp swinging for the second out, a bloop double to left by Kingery scored Littlejohn and a base hit by Morgan Jenkins brought home Kingery with the tying run.
Peebles threatened in the top of the third, getting two-out singles from Reed and Jerilin Toller, but a ground out by Josie Myers ended the inning. Symmes Valley also threatened in their half of the third, with a one-out base hit by Rachael Hayes and Estep reaching safely on an error, but Pierce got Gothard to hit into a fielder’s choice, then struck out Little john swinging to preserve the 4-4 tie.
In the top of the fourth, Nichols reached on an error, Short laid down a bunt single, and then Mother Nature decided she had seen enough softball for one day and brought in the thunder and lightning, along with a downpour that forced officials to suspend the game and bring everyone back on Wednesday for its completion.
With two on an none out, Coach McFarland and his staff had all night to decide what to do when they returned to play with the next hitter, shortstop Hailey Moore, bunt to sacrifice or have the red-hot Moore swing away. When play resumed, Moore took a strike, then attempted to bunt but fouled it away. That worked out well for the Lady Indians as the senior shortstop proceeded to line a sharp single to center to load the bases, still with no outs.
That brought Pierce to the plate and her hard-hit one-hopper to the mound turned fielder’s choice at the plate for the first out of the inning. Sims came to the plate and brought home what proved to be the inning run the easy, coaxing a base on balls from Kingery that forced home Short with the go-ahead score. Swango followed with a fly ball to center, deep enough for Moore to tag up and race home, sliding under the catcher’s tag to make it 6-4 Peebles.
The Lady Vikings got two base runners in the bottom of the fourth, but a ground ball back to the mound snuffed out the threat. In the top of the fifth, Toller led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Josie Myers, followed by a Nichols base hit that put runners at first and third, but Short struck out and Moore lined out to third to end the inning.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Estep drew a walk but a line drive back to the pitcher off the bat of Gothard turned into an inning-ending double play. Peebles got a lead off double from Pierce to begin the top of the sixth, but she was left stranded, and in the bottom half, the Lady Vikes got a single and a walk with one out, but again Pierce was able to wiggle out of trouble and keep Symmes Valley off the board.
Peebles went scoreless in the top half of the seventh, leaving them just three outs away from a trip to the district title game. Pierce took care of those three outs in rapid fashion, a ground out to first, a strike out, and then a fly ball to center that nestled into Toller’s glove for the final out in a two-run win that improved their record to 16-5 on the season and earned them another trip to Rio on Saturday.
“Our kids are excited about coming back Saturday,” said Coach McFarland. “Hopefully we will hit the ball against a really good team.”
Though she didn’t seem to get the calls from the hone plate umpire that she wanted, Pierce still managed to work out of trouble often and got the win with a seven inning, seven hit, eight strikeout performance. The Peebles offense banged 10 hits, two each going to Moore, Reed, and Nichols, and left nine runners on base.
With the win, the Lady Indians will make the trip back to Rio Grande on Saturday at 11 a.m., battling the number one seed, the Portsmouth Clay Lady Panthers, for the right to make a trip to next week’s regional tournament in Pickerington. Look for full coverage of Saturday’s district final in the May 23 issue of The People’s Defender.
310 200 0 —6
040 000 0 —4
Peebles Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Short 3-2-1-0, Moore 4-1-2-1, Pierce 3-1-1-0, Sims 2-0-0-1, Swango 2-0-0-1, Reed 4-0-2-3, Toller 3-0-1-0, Myers 3-0-1-0, Nichols 4-1-2-0, Brown 0-0-0-0, Lloyd 1-0-0-0, Behr 0-1-0-0, Team 29-6-10-6.
Extra-Base Hits: Moore 2B, Pierce 2B, Reed 3B
S. Valley Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Kingery 3-1-3-1, Jenkins 4-0-1-1, Webb 3-0-0-0, Ross 4-0-0-0, Hayes 4-0-1-0, Estep 2-1-0-0, Gothard 3-1-1-0, Littlejohn 3-1-0-0, Sharp 3-0-1-0, Hunter 0-0-0-0, Team 29-4-7-2.
Extra-Base Hits: Kingery 2B
Pierce (W) 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 8 K
S. Valley Pitching:
Kingery (L) 7 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 2 K