Wauseon jumped on top with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning and refused to look back, eventually pulling away for a 9-2 win over Swanton in Northwest Ohio Athletic League softball Wednesday, clinching the Indians a share of the league title with Archbold and Evergreen.
For Wauseon, it is their third NWOAL championship since 2018.
“It’s special,” said first-year coach Nick Lavinder. “Losing the first (league) game and then winning the next six in a row, it’s great. We fought through some adversity throughout the season. Can’t be more proud of these girls. Hit the ball today great.”
After the Indians’ two runs in the home half of the first, the Bulldogs trimmed the lead in half with a run in the top of the second. Brianna Williams drove in the run to make it a 2-1 game, however, the Indians got that run back in the next half inning.
With the bases loaded and no one out, Brianna Hays’ sacrifice fly to left field scored Ella Albright and made the difference 3-1. But that was all Wauseon could muster as Williams struck out the next two Indian hitters, ending the inning.
Wauseon closed out the scoring with a pair of three-run innings in the fourth and sixth. In between, Swanton added another on a RBI double hit by Williams in the top of the fifth.
For Wauseon in the fourth, Autumn Pelok reached via an error with one out recorded. Following a flyout for the second out, Jayli Vasquez drove in Pelok and she later scored on a wild pitch. Aubrianna Everly’s single brought in another run, extending the lead to 6-1 at the time.
After their run in the fifth, the Dogs tried for even more damage in the top of the sixth, now trailing 6-2. They had the bases loaded with just one out, but the Indians got out of it with a flyout that wasn’t deep enough to score the run from third, then a fielder’s choice to third.
“We practice defense every day, every day,” noted Lavinder. “It’s ‘ball first, ball first.’ Autumn’s dad yells from the stands. They love their gloves. And I told them, like I said at the beginning of the season, if our bats come alive we’re gonna be a dangerous team. Because we’re gonna play great defense.
“Defense wins championships, offense is for show.”
The Indians put it out of reach with their three-run sixth. The big blow was Everly’s two-run bomb to left that plated her and Vasquez.
Another run came in, making the margin 9-2, with the help of a double and also a Swanton error.
“They love each other,” said Lavinder on what makes this team so special. “They enjoy practice, they’re always having a great time. A couple of them get upset they don’t get to play at times, but, I mean they’re awesome. They’re awesome kids. The dugout’s huge.”
Everly led the offense as she went 3 for 4 with four runs batted in. Vasquez also was 3 for 4 with an RBI and three runs scored.
“Aubrianna’s a great hitter,” Lavinder said of Everly. “She has her routine. She gets up there and she, I think she’s got the second highest batting average on the team. She’s a gamer. For a freshman, she has a bright future.”
Ella Hageman was the winning pitcher while Williams took the loss for Swanton.
Indians thwart Panthers for sectional title
The Indians opened up a 6-0 lead on Maumee as they rolled to a 9-4 win at home in a Division II sectional final on Friday.
Olivia Gigax got the scoring started with a two-run home run to left field in the second that also brought home Everly.
Wauseon plated four more runs in their half of the third. Ava Kovar drove in two with a double down the left field line with runners at the corners. Everly and Gigax added RBI singles to make it 6-0 through three innings.
Maumee got on the board with a pair of runs in the fourth, but the Indians got one back in the bottom of the inning by way of a Vasquez sacrifice fly, putting the score at 7-2. Both teams scored two runs each in the sixth to close out the scoring.
Hageman picked up the win in the circle. She pitched all seven innings, allowed three runs with eight strikeouts to just four walks.
Gigax led the offense by going 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs. Kovar (2 for 4) drove in four runs.
Wauseon now moves on to the D-II district at Genoa where they will face Port Clinton in the second semifinal on Wednesday at approximately 6:30 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.