COLUMBUS — Sometimes it’s not the crack of the bat in softball that makes the difference, but the splinter.
Brunswick’s 2-0 Columbus Division I Regional semifinal loss to Grove City didn’t come because the Greyhounds overwhelmed the Blue Devils.
Thursday’s defeat came because Grove City (26-4) simply played smarter.
The tale could be told in the fourth inning as Brunswick (22-5) kicked the ball around a bit defensively and then couldn’t get it done at the plate.
“That’s been the story all season,” Brunswick coach Julie Salzman said. “That one run kills us. It’s do or die. (Grove City) was focused. We’re young, but that’s not an excuse.”
The fatal fourth started with a pop up, but then turned worse as Mariah Eckrich and Maria Ulisses sandwiched errors around a walk from McKenna Galloway (18-5).
Galloway came back to strike out Maci Haughn for the second out of the frame, but then succumbed to Lindsey Lykins, walking the left fielder on four straight pitches.
“That run is huge,” Grove City coach Ted Williams said. “That makes the other team score two and when you’re facing Paige (Myers), now you’re pressing.”
The Blue Devils came back in the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff double by Galloway, but couldn’t push the runner to third until Megan Dragony’s single to left came with two outs.
Both runners were left stranded, however, when Kendyl Stone struck out – one of nine strikeouts for Myers – to end the inning.
“That inning was real important,” Brunswick center fielder Lauren Boulton. “They came in relaxed. We might have been too focused.”
No one can deny the focus of Myers, who was every bit the part Miami (Ohio) expects her to be next year.
Myers (20-1) threw her riseball to perfection against Brunswick and mixed in a heavy diet of fastballs and change-ups.
While Boulton, Galloway and Dragony were able to figure out the right-hander, the bottom half of the lineup didn’t, going 1-of-15 with 10 strikeouts from the four hole on.
“Paige is a senior and she’s been here three times before,” Williams said. “She’s calm, cool and collected. You couldn’t tell if we won by 10 or lost by 10 with her on the mound.”
Not that it mattered, but the Greyhounds’ other run came on a two-out RBI single from Kellie Zuefle to plate Taryn Allmon in the fifth.
“Paige was good,” Galloway said. “I think she was built up a little bit, but sometimes that one run is all it takes.
“That one run is all you need. Even if they didn’t score, neither did we.”
Grove City will play Gahanna Lincoln, 2-1 winners over Dresden Tri-Valley, in the regional final on Saturday. The contest is an all-Ohio Capital Conference matchup. In two games this season, the Greyhounds have beaten Lincoln 2-0 and 7-2.
Brittany Martin made just her second appearance in the batting order according to Salzman. The freshman was there because she is much better against fastball pitchers.
There was some handy glovework by the Blue Devils despite the three errors. Brunswick had a strike them out throw them out DP in the first and Boulton completed a double play, catching a pop fly in the third and then gunning down a runner at first.
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.