By MICHAEL BURWELL
for the review times
FINDLAY — New Riegel went into Wednesday’s Division IV regional softball semifinal game against Wayne Trace with impressive statistics at the plate.
The Blue Jackets batted nearly .400 as a team with five players hitting above .388 while scoring about 10 runs per game and crushing nearly 20 home runs during the season.
That didn’t matter to Raiders pitcher Addison Baumle, though, as she shut New Riegel down.
The junior allowed just three hits to the high-powered New Riegel offense, struck out eight batters over seven innings and didn’t walk a batter as Wayne Trace edged the third-ranked Blue Jackets 1-0 at the Marathon Diamonds.
Wayne Trace (21-7) advances to Saturday’s noon regional final to play the winner of today’s semifinal between Patrick Henry (20-3) and Lakota (19-7).
New Riegel’s season ended at 25-5.
“If you would have told us we’d come in here and shut New Riegel out, I’d had said you were crazy,” Wayne Trace coach Jack Baumle said. “I really would have, but with the control that Addy has, we were confident coming in with her.”
Addison Baumle struck out Morgan Noftz (.402 batting average) and Taylor Arbogast (.388), and forced a soft line-out to the shortstop from Midland Athletic League player of the-year Taylor Kirian in the first inning.
“We didn’t want to pitch around them,” Addison Baumle said. “We take that as admitting defeat beforehand, so we just pitched right to them and made them hit our pitch.”
That inning was an indication of things to come for the Blue Jackets.
New Riegel had runners on second and third with two outs in the top of the third inning after Noftz’s bunt single and Kirian’s double to left field. But Arbogast was out trying to reach base on a bunt down the third base line when Wayne Trace’s Bailey Bergman made the throw to first.
“I didn’t like Taylor’s at bat the first time up and I kind of thought her odds were in her favor for her to beat out a bunt,” New Riegel coach Jamie Lininger said. “Hindsight’s 20-20, but you hate to have a .400 batter bunt with runners on second and third.”
As well as Baumle was pitching for Wayne Trace, Kirian was just as effective, especially with her defense behind her. She allowed just one hit, an infield single by Carley Wright, in the first five innings, and the Raiders had only two base runners in that span as well, with Brenda Feasby reaching on an error in the fourth inning.
A couple of clutch hits in the sixth inning, however, gave the Raiders the run they needed.
Mackenzie Swary, the No. 9 batter for Wayne Trace, singled over New Riegel shortstop Kara Scherger to lead off the inning. She advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Emilie Linder and tagged to third when Feasby flew out to right field.
Libby Stabler then ripped an RBI double down the left field line to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead.
“Libby’s not a power hitter for us, but she’s a contact hitter and she’ll put the ball in play,” Jack Baumle said. “She’s just been doing a great job for us and that was just clutch. That was phenomenal and just great to see the senior come through like that.”
With the wind blowing around 20 mph straight toward home plate from left field, both teams had trouble offensively, combining for just seven hits (five singles and two doubles). Kirian said the wind made pitching easier, but hitting tougher.
“It helps pitching (to) move the ball a little more, a little faster,” Kirian said. “And then hitting, it’s really hard to hit straight into the wind, which is what we were doing all night, so it’s always difficult. And as you can see, both teams were having trouble hitting, so the wind was definitely a factor.”
New Riegel had a chance to score in the top of the seventh after Scherger ripped a lead-off single up the middle. She stole second base on the next pitch, and Lauren Zoeller reached on an error to give the Blue Jackets runners on first and second with no outs.
Hailey Theis tried to reach on a bunt, but the ball popped straight up and into the glove of catcher Swary. Leah Bouillon hit a lineout to Feasby in center field on the next pitch, and after Scherger and Zoeller stole third and second, respectively, on the next pitch, pinch-hitter Lauren Ladd struck out to end the game.
“I think normally we win games with our bats, so it’s a little different to not see us hit as much,” Kirian said. “But I think we played as hard as we could the whole game.”
Wayne Trace extended its winning streak to seven games, and through four tournament games, the Raiders have allowed just two runs.
Kirian finished the season on the mound with a 24-5 record, and the loss snapped the Blue Jackets’ 13-game winning streak.
New Riegel 000 000 0 – 0 3 1 Wayne Trace 000 001 x – 1 4 2
WP — Baumle. LP — Kirian (24-5). top hitters: (NR) Kirian 2B. (WT) Stabler 2B, RBI.