|Lady Raiders headed to Akron|
WT plays Cuyahoga Heights on Friday in semifinal
By KEVIN WANNEMAKER • Progress Sportswriter
FINDLAY – It was a battle of the Raiders in the Division IV softball regional championship at Findlay.
Thanks to a pair of first inning RBI singles, it was the Wayne Trace Raiders who earned their berth in the state semifinals with a 2-1 win over Lakota at Marathon Fields.
Wayne Trace, who is now 22-7, advances to take on Cuyahoga Heights (20-3) in Friday’s first semifinal with a 10 a.m. start at Firestone Stadium in Akron. The Redskins defeated Berlin Center Western Reserve 2-0 in their regional championship matchup.
“It’s a great feeling,” noted Raider head coach Jack Baumle. “These girls have worked so hard and to see all of that hard work be rewarded is great.”
The red, white and blue got all the offense it needed in the first inning. With two outs, Libby Stabler and Bailey Bergman recorded back-to-back singles to left. Carley Wright followed with another single to left field that scored Stabler before Addison Baumle added another RBI single that plated Bergman.
“I thought once we hit the ball the way we did in the first that we might just take off from there,” continued the Raider mentor. “But it didn’t work out that way. Thankfully it worked out for us though.”
Although Wayne Trace left both Wright and Baumle on base, it would be enough to hold on from there.
Baumle had shut down the Raiders of Lakota in the first inning in order but it would be the only time on the day. In the second, Destiny Long-Myer had a single with two outs before Baumle struck out second baseman Aspen Ray for the third out.
In the third, Nikkia Cooper drew a two-out walk but the Raider hurler again escaped further damage by striking out Bree Long-Meyer for the third out.
The local squad had a chance to do further damage in the third but couldn’t come up with the big hit.
Brenda Feasby and Stabler posted consecutive singles before Bergman reached on a fielder’s choice that forced out Feasby. Following an illegal pitch to move runners to second and third, Lakota pitcher Morgan Gangwer got Wright to pop out to shortstop Alaina Bickford before Baumle grounded out to end the inning.
“We’ve done that at times this year where we just haven’t come up with that key hit,” stated the Raider head coach. “That is something we have to do a better job of.”
Lakota put two runners on with one out in the fourth only to see Baumle sit down Destiney Long-Myer and Ray to keep Lakota off the scoreboard.
In the fifth, Cooper hit a two-out double before Bree Long-Meyer struck out to keep Lakota scoreless.
Wayne Trace got a Feasby single with one out but Stabler popped out to Ray at second for the second out. After Bergman reached on an error, Gangwer recorded a fly out by Wright to end the inning.
Alaina Bickford reached on a single to start the sixth for Lakota but three straight fly outs ended the inning. Things would get interesting in the seventh though.
Following a Baumle strike out of pinch hitter Taylor Odom, Ray reached on a single to center field. A sacrifice bunt by Samantha Miller moved Ray to second but Lakota was down to its final out.
Cooper then ripped a double to left that scored Ray and got Lakota within 2-1.
Baumle, though, ended any doubt as she got Bree Long-Meyer to pop out to Stabler at first base, igniting a Wayne Trace celebration both on and off the field.
The Raider junior hurler finished the day with 10 strikeouts while allowing one walk and five hits. Lakota’s run was also the first earned run allowed by Wayne Trace in tournament play this year, ending a streak of 34-2/3 innings.
“It definitely wasn’t Addie’s best day,” Baumle said. “But she battled through it and we were able to make enough defensive plays. She was getting tired there at the end and her location wasn’t as good as normal.”
Wayne Trace again got some strong play by the Raider outfield down the stretch, including a key catch by Sydney Critten in right field to thwart a Lakota scoring chance.
“Sydney made a big catch there,” commented the elder Baumle. “She changed directions and had to come back and get the ball but she was able to make the play and it was a big one.”
Gangwer was the tough luck loser, scattering seven hits while giving up two earned runs. Gangwer also fanned three on the afternoon.
Cooper had a single and double while Alaina Bickford added a single. Destiney Long-Myer and Ray also had singles for Lakota, which closes its season at 20-8.
Feasby and Stabler both had two singles to lead the Raider offense while Bergman, Baumle and Wright all posted a single as well.
The second game in Division IV will feature Minster (26-3) against Bainbridge Paint Valley (22-8) at 12:30 p.m. on Friday. All four schools will be participating in their first state tournament. The state championship game is slated for Saturday, June 7, at 4 p.m.
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