LaGRANGE TWP. — The Keystone softball team defeated Buckeye for the third time this season, but the Wildcats’ 5-1 win Friday in the Lagrange Division II District final was different.
It secured the Wildcats’ 27th district championship — 13th in the last 14 seasons — and a spot in the Bucyrus Regional.
But unlike Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division meetings won 14-3 and 10-0 by Keystone (27-3), the Bucks (12-12) made the Wildcats work this time.
Two Bucks pitchers held the Wildcats to six hits, but two were two-run homers, one by sophomore Destiny Weber and the other by senior Carleigh Herrington. The fifth run scored on freshman Sammie Stefan’s double down the left-field line in the fifth inning.
“We wanted it more today,” Buckeye coach Howie Calame said. “The girls were locked in the whole game. I told them I believed in them and we played seven good innings. They didn’t kill us in any one inning.
“I’m proud of the girls. They played their hearts out and obviously we got beat by the better team today.”
The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Weber’s two-out homer that drove Summer Constable home. Constable led off the inning with a bunt single.
“There wasn’t much to it,” Weber said. “I was seeing the ball well and I knew before the game that I needed to keep my head down and swing to extension. That’s what I did.”
Buckeye starter Maggie Calame settled down and held Keystone hitless the next two innings, but the Wildcats put it out of reach in the fifth. Weber walked to lead off the inning and Herrington blasted a 3-1 pitch over the center-field fence.
“We had a runner in scoring position and Coach P (Jim Piazza) pulled me aside and said, ‘This is the time I need a senior to step up,’” said Herrington, who played on her home field for the last time. “Regardless, I was just up there trying to get a hit, because that’s what we needed. It clicked and the ball went over.”
At that point, Howie Calame relieved his junior daughter with senior Chrissy Nichols.
“I think I left her in for one too many batters,” he said. “(Nichols and Maggie Calame) have been back and forth the whole season and they both deserved to pitch. I thought we’d change it up a little bit, and I felt Maggie would be a change right at the beginning.
“She did well except for the one home run. The second one was my mistake. I was thinking, ‘Shall I bring Chrissy in now?’ But like I said, I waited one too many batters.”
The Bucks scored with two outs in the fifth. Mary Spengler, who had singled, scored when the Wildcats failed to handle Brianna Matras’ infield grounder.
Contact Bob Daniels at email@example.com.