SIDNEY – A single unearned run led to a 1-0 loss for Ansonia in Tuesday’s sectional championship softball game against Mechanicsburg at Fairlawn High School.
Mechanicsburg had runners on base in every inning on Tuesday, but Ansonia kept getting out of jams – stranding 13 runners in the game. However, a two-out error in the fourth inning allowed the game’s only run to score.
“They played pretty good,” Ansonia softball coach Floyd Jenkins said. “They got out of a lot of jams. (Mechanicsburg) had an opportunity to blow it open. Our defense stepped up. Pitcher, Shelby (Hartzell), pitched real good. Real proud of the girls for that.”
Ansonia and Mechanicsburg both had opportunities to take the lead in the first three innings.
Mechanicsburg had runners on second and third with no outs in the first inning and a bases-loaded situation in the third but couldn’t get any runners in. Ansonia had a leadoff triple from Taylor Thwaits in the first inning, a two-out walk to Hartzell in the second and a leadoff single by Thwaits in the third but like Mechanicsburg couldn’t push any runs across the plate.
“Just wasn’t used to that pitcher, a little different style,” Jenkins said of Mechanicsburg’s Elysha Stapleton. “She threw nice. You have to give her a lot of credit. They had a good game plan with her.”
Mechanicsburg finally broke the stalemate in the fourth inning. Ceci Link and Jessica Maddux both singled, giving Mechanicsburg runners on the corners with two outs. Ansonia appeared to be out of the inning with a fly ball into the outfield, but the Tigers uncharacteristically dropped it, allowing Link to score and put Mechanicsburg up 1-0.
After having three runners on base in the first three innings, Ansonia’s offense went cold as the Tigers went down in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. However, they rallied in the seventh and had the potential winning run in scoring position.
Following a leadoff walk to Abby Helmke, Jailyn Thwaits hit into a fielder’s choice. After Stapleton’s 16th strikeout of the game, Hartzell kept the Tigers alive by drawing a two-out walk.
Thwaits and Hartzell then successfully pulled off a double steal, moving the potential tying run to third and the potential winning run to second.
“We tried to make something happen with a double steal there and was there trying to make them throw the ball away,” Jenkins said.
Trinity Henderson then stepped up to the plate for Ansonia and drove a pitch into deep center field. However, it was caught to end the game and the Tigers’ season.
“Trinity battled up there at the plate,” Jenkins said. “She had two strikes on her, and she smoked it. You can’t hit a ball harder than that, but it was just right at their center fielder. You go 5 feet either way, and that’s the ballgame and we win.”
Ansonia finished the game with two hits and left five runners on base, three of whom were stranded in scoring position. Thwaits had both of the Tigers’ hits.
Mechanicsburg had nine hits and stranded 13 runners, stranding a runner in every inning and twice leaving the bases loaded.
The loss ended Ansonia’s season with a 20-7 record.
“We started out 3-4, and we ended up 20-7,” Jenkins said. “Hell of a year. And we beat some good teams along the way. Good for Ansonia softball.”
The loss also ended the high school careers of Ansonia’s nine seniors – Hartzell, Helmke, Alyssa Henderson, Katelynn Overholser, Brooke Neal, Monica Stover, Thwaits, Molly Walters and Madison Young – eight of whom started on Tuesday.
“These girls have come a long ways,” Jenkins said. “They waited their turn. A lot of them didn’t play when they were sophomores and juniors, but a lot of them got their turn this year.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.