MAUMEE – Like an Alfred Hitchcock mystery, Eastwood’s Ashley Hitchcock was just as perplexing to the Evergreen Vikings as the Eagles’ stud pitcher allowed just one base runner and struck out 12, as she defeated the Vikings 7-0 in a Division III softball district semifinal Monday at Maumee’s Rolf Park.
Hitchcock, a University of Toledo verbal commit since her freshman year, went through the first nine Vikings without anyone putting the ball in play.
The only blemish on her for the day was when Viking leadoff hitter Jamie VanLoocke flipped a single into left leading off the fourth.
In the meantime, Eastwood got the only run they would need in the first inning.
Viking lefty Courtney Couts walked Alissa Ray to lead off the game, and after a passed ball and strikeout, Viking coach Andy Langenderfer intentionally passed the dangerous Hitchcock, and Carleigh Coffield also drew a walk to load the bases.
The Vikes had a chance to get out of the jam when they had Hitchcock caught off second after a pop to second, but Eastwood escaped when the throw went to third to try to double Ray, who got back to the bag.
That missed out was crucial when Meghan Melcher drew a bases loaded pass to force in the first run of the game.
Couts breezed through the second where she struck out the side, and escaped trouble in the third when Hitchcock’s base running blunder of trying to score from second on an infield hit proved fatal to Eastwood’s scoring opportunity.
The Eagles padded their lead in the fourth, pushing four runs, including two unearned across the plate.
Mya Tuttamore and Ray singled with one out, and again an intentional pass to Hitchcock with two down loaded the bases.
This time Coffield made the Vikes pay with a looping single into short center that plated two more runs.
An error on Hannah Owens’ bouncer and a wild pitch brought home two more to make it 5-0.
Eastwood scored two more in the sixth on Maddy Dyer’s triple, Hitchcock’s fourth free pass of the day, a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch.
“I don’t feel like the scoreboard told the total story of this game,” Langenderfer said after. “The top hitters they have are phenomenal and we held them to no more than one hit apiece. They were able to chain some hits together in the fourth and put some runs on the board, but I feel the game was closer than what the scoreboard showed.”
Couts allowed just six hits but walked 10, that number includes the four passes to Hitchcock. The Viking sophomore struck out nine.
The Vikings end with a sectional title, their 10th in the last 13 years, after missing a trip to the district in 2017.
Despite the loss, Langenderfer felt the Vikings made gains as the season progressed.
“We grew as a team and part of that is that we started the season with really tough competition that included playing a lot of D-I and D-II schools,” the Viking coach explained.
“Our record early on didn’t show how good of a team we really were. Once we started playing schools our size and chaining together some wins we really showed what we were capable of doing.
“We will continue to grow and get better and learn from every game win or lose.”
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com
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