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McGUFFEY — Trailing Perry 4-0 after four innings, the Ridgemont softball team battled its way back into the game, scoring a run in the fifth inning and two in the sixth.
The Gophers ran out of magic in the seven inning, however, as Perry pitcher Abbie Patton struck out the side and the Commodores held on for a 4-3 victory in Division IV sectional final action at Upper Scioto Valley.
The Commodores, 15-3 on the season, advance to the Wapakoneta district semifinals where they will play Minster at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The Gophers finish the season with a 6-14 mark.
Down by four runs, Ridgemont got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning on an RBI infield-single from Keysten Creamer that brought home Cierra James, who led off the inning with a triple to center field.
The Gophers made it 4-3 in the sixth inning after Grace Poeppelman and James singled to reach base and were able to come home when Bret Connolly hit a fly ball to that was dropped in centerfield.
All four Perry runs off Gopher pitcher Connolly were unearned.
After Courtney Fowler reached base with one out in the bottom of the first inning, she was able to steal second base before advancing to third and crossing home on passed balls.
In a three-run fourth inning, the Commodores once again took advantage of Gopher miscues.
The first two batters, India Redding and Emily Baughan, reached base by error before Haley King bunted for a single to load the bases.
Redding and Baughan scored on wild pitches and after Lexi Truman was hit by a pitch, Courtney Trent had a sacrifice bunt to make it 4-0 in favor of the Commodores.
Connolly gave up four hits and two walks and struck out five batters for the Gophers.
Ridgemont coach Erica Marquis said the miscues proved costly to her team’s chances.
“Without those we could have won that game for sure,” she said. “We had two errors and five or six passed balls and wild pitches that were very crucial.”
The Gopher mentor added she was proud of the way her girls battled back.
“I think they played a pretty good game all-around,” she said. “I’ve kind of come to expect this season that they play better when they are down. I think they thrive on it and like to come back. We just weren’t able to get it all the way back today I guess.”
“Passed balls and errors let us win, but of course we had an error and let them back in the game and they scored two runs on a dropped ball in the outfield,” Perry coach Bob Patton said. “We did not play very good ball tonight. I’m kind of disappointed. Sometimes our team lowers its level of play and we just didn’t play very well tonight.”
“They’re a good team, don’t get me wrong,” the Perry coach added. “They’re battling some injuries, but they can hit the ball. I don’t want to take anything away from them.”
Abbie Patton, who was the winning pitcher, held the Gophers hitless through four innings before James opened the fifth with her triple. She finished with nine strikeouts.
Marquis said that she saw a lot of growth from the girls on her team throughout the spring.
“It was a great season,” she said. “It was a totally different team from the beginning of the year to the end of the year and it was pretty much all the same girls playing the same positions. …
“The main difference between last year and this year is they didn’t get down on themselves as much. Last year if they got down by four runs the game was over and they’d get run spread.. This year they were able to take it and go with it and try and get back in the game.”
R 000 012 0 - 3 4 2
P 103 300 x - 4 4 2
WP – Patton. LP – Connolly.
3B – James. 2B – Patton.
By KENDRICK JESIONOWSKI
Times sports editor