GENOA — Wauseon’s pitching and defense allowed just a single Clyde base runner all game long, and their nine-run bottom of the fourth inning enabled them to break away for a 10-0 five-inning win in the Division II softball district semifinal at Genoa Wednesday.
Then in the championship Saturday versus top-seeded Oak Harbor, down 9-6 after a six-run fifth for the Rockets, the Indians’ offense came alive again scoring seven runs on six hits in their half of the seventh, grabbing a 13-9 lead they would not relinquish in capturing the program’s first district title since 2007.
“In the regular season when we’d get down, we struggled coming back. But today, the last inning there, I said ‘I want to win this’. I don’t know, it just pumped everybody up I guess,” said Wauseon coach Mark Schang.
“That’s why we came here. I called it, when you go on vacation it’s a destination. You have a journey to get there. This was a step on our journey.”
Payton Albright, one of Wauseon’s six seniors and a key player in the game, is grateful the Indians are moving on.
“It’s big for us,” she said of them winning a district championship. “We were on a journey; we’re on a mission. The whole season. Regular season didn’t really go how we had planned. So this was it for us. This was our time to go shine.”
The Indians led 5-0 midway through the second on a two-run home run from Jettie Burget in the first and Albright’s three-run jack to left in the second.
Oak Harbor tallied three in the bottom of the inning. In Wauseon’s half of the fourth, they doubled their lead at 6-3 when Brianna Hays scored on a wild pitch.
Ellie Hanselman led off the bottom of the fifth with a homer for the Rockets, the first of six hits in the frame. Reagan Schultz followed with a bloop hit and made it to second, then after Remi Gregory’s flyout, Porter Gregory’s pop up was dropped and both runners advanced into scoring position.
They came home on Emily Sommers’ double to right center field, tying the game 6-6. The Rockets added RBI hits from Kori Helle and Alyse Sorg, then another run via a wild pitch bumped their lead to 9-6.
That margin stayed the same heading into the seventh.
With the pressure at an all-time high, Albright was unsure if her team would be able to complete the comeback.
“At that point in the game, I didn’t really think anything was gonna happen for us,” she said. “I thought that was it — everybody did. Everybody was crying. But we knew we wanted to win. We came here on a mission and that’s what we did.”
They got off to a strong start as Jayli Vasquez led off with a single up the middle and Olivia Gigax’s pop up was dropped by Oak Harbor. Kiara Stutzman’s bunt moved up the runners, and Albright smacked a double to left to score them and pull the Indians within a run, 9-8.
The rest of the damage was done with two outs as Schultz drew a foul out off the bat of Hays. Macee Schang was up next, and the Wauseon pitcher helped herself with an RBI single to score Albright and tie the game.
After that, Burget was intentionally walked for the second time in the game, but the move proved costly when Chelsie Raabe drove in Schang, putting the Indians on top 10-9. Raabe got to second when the throw missed its target, allowing two more runs to score on Alexis Haury’s hit.
Vasquez, who started the inning, completed the scoring with a RBI double to right field.
“It was awesome,” coach Schang of his team’s seventh inning rally. “They (Oak Harbor) hit the ball well. We finally caught up with the pitcher, that’s when we started hitting.”
He now gets to lead the Indians to the regional where they will square off with the top team in the state in Division II, LaGrange Keystone, in a semifinal at Tiffin University’s Paradiso Sports Complex this Wednesday at approximately 5 p.m.
“I’ve been coaching the seniors since they were eight years old to now. I couldn’t be happier. It’s awesome,” said coach Schang on winning the district with this group of girls.
Indians put away Clyde in five
The Indians sent Clyde down in order in every inning outside of the fourth during the semifinal win. In that fourth inning, Wauseon hurler Macee Schang got out of it with a strikeout and two ground outs.
“She only threw 61 pitches. That’s great. Friday (in the sectional win over Perkins), she threw 133 pitches and her arm was a little sore,” said coach Schang of his daughter’s outing in the circle.
“I talked to her a lot about getting the first pitch strike. That helped her out quite a bit tonight,” he added.
Wauseon led 1-0 after the first inning. Payton Albright led off with a single, she was advanced into scoring position by Brianna Hays’ bunt, and two batters later rode home via a Jettie Burget RBI single.
Then the Indians took charge by batting around in the home half of the fourth.
Burget’s base on balls started it off, then Chelsie Raabe reached on a single. However, perhaps the biggest at bat of the game, came from Alexis Haury who fouled off numerous pitches and eventually was hit by one to load the bases.
This gave the hitters who came after her a chance to get a decent look at Clyde pitcher Maddie Dukeshire and how she would attack them.
“You could see she (Dukeshire) was getting frustrated. And, for a coach, you don’t know what to throw next if she’s fouling everything off. They did awesome at the plate tonight. I was waiting for it (the offense) to bust out in the first or second inning, but I’m glad they did,” explained coach Schang.
Jaylie Vasquez extended the Wauseon lead with a two-run single, followed by Olivia Gigax’s bomb over the fence in left center field to make it a 6-0 advantage.
A Kiara Stutzman lineout made for the first out of the inning, but Albright recharged the offense with a double to left. Hays then shot another double to left that wasn’t deep enough to score Albright but put both runners in scoring position, and Schang’s ground out scored Albright.
Burget then got it to 8-0 with a double to bring home Hays. Raabe completed the rout with a two-run home run to left, reaching what ended up being the game’s final margin.
The Indians were able to get to Dukeshire by simply turning on the inside pitches she threw.
“We are a very good inside hitting team,” coach Schang said. “We just told them, ‘start pulling the ball’, and it worked for them. Because the last five games before this, everything was outside and we were struggling with that. But, she (Dukeshire) threw right to our power.”
Burget finished the game 2 for 2 with a walk and two runs batted in. Also driving in a pair of runs each were Raabe (2 for 3), Vasquez (2 for 3), and Gigax (1 for 3).
Schang earned the win after allowing just the one base runner and striking out seven Clyde batters over five innings.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.