LaGRANGE — Buckeye’s softball team was coming off an emotional victory over Firelands in the first round of the LaGrange Division II Sectional and hoping to ride that momentum to a win over top-seeded Keystone in Tuesday’s sectional final.
The host Wildcats had other plans.
Belting out 10 hits, including two home runs, over five innings, Keystone mercy-ruled the Bucks 10-0 to advance to the district semifinals Monday back at LaGrange Community Park.
Buckeye dropped to 5-12 and has to turn right back around to face these same Wildcats in a Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division game this afternoon.
“In softball, when there’s nice weather, you’ve got to go out and play,” Buckeye coach Howie Calame said. “They know they’re playing Keystone, but if you don’t come out ready to play, things like this happen.
“I thought we were ready to play, especially with how we played in the first couple of innings. But it just all kind of went downhill from there. I knew (Keystone) was going to hit, but I thought we would hit a little better.”
The Bucks were held to just three hits. Keystone starter Kenzie Conrad (16-1) allowed one in her four innings of work, and reliever Bee Shaw gave up back-to-back singles to start the fifth inning. However, great fielding by reserve third baseman Morgan McNulty kept the Bucks off the scoreboard.
Buckeye pitcher Tori Hauser had two of her team’s three hits, going 2-for-2 with leadoff singles in the second and fifth innings. Allisyn Wills had the other hit for the Bucks.
Both times Hauser got on base, she was forced out, once on a double-play comebacker by Julia Sekerak and the other on a fielder’s choice grounder to third by Sekerak.
“We didn’t hit the ball very well,” Calame said. “I thought we’d be competitive. I was thinking the momentum we gained from (Monday) would happen, but I also knew that Keystone wasn’t going to be affected by that. The first three innings, we were right there, but when they start hitting home runs, what are you going to do? They’re gonna hit the ball.”
Hauser fell to 5-8, giving up 10 runs (9 earned) on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. She allowed two-run home runs to Conrad — her blast capped a four-run third that broke open what had been a 1-0 game — and leadoff hitter Erin Pond, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles, three runs and two RBI.
No. 9 hitter Mallory Nagy led off the bottom of the third with a single and went to third on a double by Pond. Back-to-back wild pitches by Hauser scored both runners to make it 3-0 before Alexis Sanislow followed with a single.
On a 1-2 pitcher, Conrad lifted a deep fly down the right-field line that stayed fair as it went over the fence for a back-breaking two-run homer, making it 5-0, Keystone.
“You can expect a four- or five-run inning out of (Keystone) at any time,” Calame said. “It could be the top of the order or the bottom of the order that hurts you. You’re afraid of all of their hitters.
Obviously, at a field like this, if they hit it good, it’s gonna go out. And, twice, it did.”
Pond’s homer with one out in the fourth, which followed a leadoff walk issued to designated player Allyson Broschk, made it 7-0.
“We’ve got to give (our hitters) a lot of credit,” Keystone coach Jim Piazza said. “They’ve been doing that a lot all year. We took a different approach when the season started that we’re going to pick the pitch that we want instead of just swinging at anything. That approach has showed. We had (three) doubles today, and going into today, we had 78 doubles and 26 home runs.
“They’ve been hitting the ball real well. A lot of it has to do with their focus – making adjustments in each at-bat and just the work they’ve put in with swinging hard and being disciplined at the plate. That has a lot to do with the success of our season so far.”
Contact Dan Gilles at (440) 329-7135 or email@example.com.
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