HOUSTON – Storms threatened to the west, but that didn’t stop a competitive effort from the Bradford softball team as the Railroaders were eliminated from the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament.
In the top of the first inning, Tori Smith and Bailey Wysong of Bradford were able to get hits, but a double play ended the at-bat with no score.
Houston started strong with a RBI triple from Macey Stang that sent in Micalah Hensley for the run. Stang set a career RBI record with 39 total and helped her team take a 1-0 lead.
Both teams settled in the second inning. Bradford pitcher Tori Smith threw two straight strikeouts, and the inning ended with a sprinting outfield catch by Olivia Hart.
In the top of the third, Bradford seemed to wakeup due to the chaotic chants from its dugout, which landed Hart on base after a walk, followed by a steal. She was eager to steal third, but the at-bat ended with a strikeout and Bradford still scoreless.
Each pitch seemed to be faster than the previous as Smith struck out another two batters to end the inning with Houston hanging on to a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth inning, after singles from Smith and Haley Rosengarten, Chelsea Gill brilliantly placed a bunt out of reach of Houston’s defense, taking first base and loading up the bases for batter Ciara Yohey. Yohey cracked a two RBI single, sending in Bianca Keener (a courtesy runner for the resting Smith) and Rosengarten for the 2-1 lead.
Not to be outperformed at home, Houston answered quickly in the bottom of the inning with a Grace Riffell RBI that sent in Stang for the score and the tie 2-2 ballgame.
Houston put in pitcher Macey Stang to replace Kayla New, who had previously pitched four innings, and Bradford was poised to score. In the top of the fifth inning, Emily Huggins, on base after a walk, stole second. Smith hit a single up the middle. Huggins rounded third and sprinted home but was tagged out on a questionable call – preventing Bradford from taking the lead.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Houston’s Kaytlyn Riffell hit a single, allowing Sarah Monnier to score, and Grace Riffell hit a double, sending in Kaytlyn Riffell for the 4-2 lead.
Bradford fought in the seventh, with two runners on, two outs and its power batter Tori Smith in the box, but the Railroaders were unable to get her up to bat, as the inning – and the game – ended with a strikeout and the score 4-2 in Houston’s favor.
For Bradford, Smith was 3-for-3 with her runner scoring and Rosengarten was 1-for-3 with a run scored.
For Houston, Hensley was 1-for-3 with a run scored. Monnier was 2-for-3 with a run scored. Stang was 2-for-3 with a RBI and run scored. Kaytlyn Riffell was 1-for-3 with a RBI and run scored. Grace Riffell was 1-for-2 with two runs scored.
Bradford’s Smith pitched six necessary innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and zero walks.
Houston’s New pitched four innings, allowing two runs on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Stang pitched three innings, allowing zero runs on two hits with five strikeouts, two walks and the win.
Bradford is now eliminated from the OHSAA tournament while Houston advances.