By SCOTT COTTOS
FINDLAY — Lakota did in the seventh inning just what it had in the second through sixth by bringing the go-ahead or tying run to the plate.
But just as she had in each of the previous five innings, Wayne Trace pitcher Addison Baumle wriggled off the hook, and her squad came away with a 2-1 win in a battle of teams nicknamed Raiders for a Division IV regional championship Saturday at Marathon Diamonds at the Cube.
Wayne Trace (22-7) will make its first trip to state in softball and take on Cuyahoga Heights (20-3) in a 10 a.m. semifinal Friday at Akron’s Firestone Stadium.
“It’s just amazing,” said Baumle, who struck out 10 while tossing a four-hitter. “We had football go to state this year and basketball go to regionals. It’s great to get a spring sport in there, especially softball being a girls sport, and it’s nice to bring another trophy home to the school.”
Lakota coach Chris Chalfin wanted his club to leave the field proud of a 20-8 season in which they gave the school its first win in any sport at the regional level. He also wanted his team to understand that it had not gifted the win — rather, Wayne Trace earned it with a two-run first inning in which it did all of its scoring with two outs.
“My motto’s always been, ‘Don’t give them any runs. Make them earn them,’” Chalfin said. “And I told them, ‘We didn’t give them any runs. They earned them.’ They put three or four hits together in a row there. You know, we kept making defensive plays. We pitched well. We played hard, I thought. I don’t think there’s anything to be ashamed of. We played really well.”
And Lakota’s performance nearly got it to state.
Breanna Ray got Lakota going in the top of the seventh with a one-out single to center field, and she moved to second on Sam Miller’s sacrifice bunt. Nikkia Cooper then belted a double to left to drive in Ray. But the contest ended on Bree Long-Meyer’s soft liner to Wayne Trace first baseman Libby Stabler.
After going down in order in the first inning, Lakota put at least one runner on base in every inning, but none went beyond second until the final frame.
Chalfin said his club is strong offensively and Baumle deserved credit for her performance.
“We just couldn’t get the key hit when we needed to,” Chalfin said. “That was the difference in the game. I mean, (Baumle) is a heck of a pitcher. There’s a reason why we weren’t getting key hits.”
Baumle has surrendered just three runs along Wayne Trace’s tournament trail, and Lakota’s was the first earned run she had given up in the postseason. The third-inning walk that Cooper drew was just the fifth that Baumle has issued all season.
Her showing was far from pleasing to her, though.
“My pitches were not working at all today,” the junior said.
Chalfin noted his scouting report said Baumle liked to throw her riseball, but his squad ended up seeing few of them. As many others have done this season, though, Lakota’s batters often swung and missed at a curveball that broke into the left-handed batter’s box.
“My riseball was not working today, so we stuck mostly to curveballs,” Baumle said. “We used a few change-ups and then I was just blowing my fastball by them a couple of times.”
Losing pitcher Morgan Gangwer struck out three and did not walk a batter. She allowed six singles, and four of them came consecutively after she retired Wayne Trace’s first two hitters.
Carley Wright and Baumle each drove in a run with their team’s third and fourth singles, respectively, in the first inning.
“The game didn’t go quite as we expected,” Jack Baumle, Wayne Trace’s coach and Addison’s father, said. “That first inning we came out and I’m thinking, ‘Boy, this is great. We’re really getting our offense off on the right start right away. Then after that first inning, we couldn’t produce any more. So that aspect of it wasn’t quite what we wanted, but defensively our pitcher and our defense held them down.
“We allowed one run late in the game and it was getting a little tight, but that’s all it took, was that first inning. I’m hoping we can produce a little more next week when we go on to play Friday, but it’s going to take some more work and we’ve got another week to work on it.”
Lakota 000 000 1 — 1 4 1 Wayne Trace 200 000 x — 2 6 2
WP — Baumle. LP — Gangwer. top hitters: (Lak) Cooper 2B, RBI. (WT) Wright 1B, RBI; Baumle 1B, RBI.
recordS: Lakota 20-8; Wayne Trace 22-7.