MASON – Greenville advanced to the regional finals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association softball tournament for a third consecutive year by run ruling Clinton-Massie 14-4 in six innings on Wednesday.
“You don’t run rule many teams in the regionals, and that was a run rule win for Greenville softball,” Greenville softball coach Jerrod Newland said. “That’s awesome. Final eight and so proud of the kids. The fight. The fans. Two-thirds of the place was Lady Wave softball nation today. Just proud stuff.”
Greenville only had one more hit than Clinton-Massie, 10 to nine, but the Lady Wave committed no errors while the Falcons had four. The Lady Wave also had some clutch hits, perhaps none bigger than Alli Hill’s first career home run in the sixth inning that put Greenville up 13-2.
It was a special moment, Newland said, and made even more special by the struggles Hill’s family has experienced as her father, Ronnie, suffered a heart attack two years ago and her mother, Cindi, is battling cancer.
“Alli Hill is 18 years old, and she’s never hit a ball over a fence,” Newland said. “Mom and Dad have had a heart attack and battling cancer. She told me the other day, she hit the fence once, but she said she’s never got one. And on the one-one pitch I said, ‘Man, she just missed that rise ball’ to the coaches, and they said, ‘Why is she swinging at it?’ Next pitch is over the fence. It’s just awesome for the kid. Just so proud of her, man. Just so proud of her.
“For her to hit it, Mom’s out there crying. It’s just awesome.”
Hill had the biggest day at the plate for Greenville with her home run and a double.
Early on in the game, though, Greenville did its damage without many hits.
Morgan Gilbert led off the game with a single. After Karsyn Shaffer walked, an error allowed Gilbert to score and put the Wave up 1-0.
Makayla Hanes then drove in Shaffer with a grounder, and Cassie Cromwell scored when Clinton-Massie committed the second error of the inning on a fly ball by Sydney Grote.
Despite having just a single hit in the first inning, Greenville led 3-0.
In the second inning Greenville again only had one hit, but once more that was enough to produce a run. Gilbert drew a two-out walk, stole second and scored on a double by Shaffer to make it a 4-0 game.
The theme continued in the third inning when a single hit led to another run. Hanes led off the inning with a walk. Chloe Sowry, Hanes’ pinch runner, advanced to second on a grounder by Grote and scored on a double by Hill to make it 5-0.
Clinton-Massie, which had stranded two runners in the first inning, got its offense going again in the bottom of the third. Ashlie Miller led off the inning with a single, stole second and scored on a double by Victoria Sivert to reduce Greenville’s lead to 5-1. It was the first run Greenville has given up in this year’s OHSAA tournament.
“I was glad when they got the one at 5-1,” Newland said. “It’s just good because when you play it, we want those intense things. In like the fourth they said, ‘What are you excited about?’ I’m like, ‘It’s 5-1. They got a couple people on. This is great.’ I like when people push so we can push back. Before the game we said when they punch us we’re going to punch back.”
Clinton-Massie held Greenville scoreless in the top of the fourth then added its second run in the bottom half of the inning. Kendall Anderson, who replaced an injured Madilyn Newton in the lineup, led off with a double in her first at-bat then scored on a single by Miller to bring the score to 5-2.
Greenville then punched back in the fifth inning.
After back-to-back singles by Hanes and Grote, a sacrifice bunt by Hill moved both runners up a base. Both runners then scored on a single by Baylee Petry to increase the lead to 7-2.
Moments later Zoe Pressnall walked to put two runners aboard for Greenville then Gilbert reached on an error, which allowed both runners to score and make it 9-2.
After scoring four runs in the fifth inning, Greenville continued its onslaught with five in the sixth.
Cromwell started the rally with a one-out double and scored on a single by Hanes. After Grote was hit by a pitch, Hill launched her three-run home run to increase the lead to 13-2.
Megan Johnston then tripled and scored on a wild pitch, putting the Wave up 14-2.
Clinton-Massie, looking to avoid the shutout, started off well in the bottom of the sixth.
Hailey Clayborn walked, Anderson singled and Claire Carruthers singled to load the bases with no outs. An infield single by Lindsey Carter drove in a run and reduced the deficit to 14-3. A walk to Miller brought in another run and made it 14-4, but Greenville was able to leave the bases juiced with three consecutive outs, ending the game in a six-inning run rule.
Along with Hill’s double and home run, Greenville got a big day offensively from Hanes as she had two hits and walked once. Shaffer had a double and walked once. Cromwell had a double and reached base on an error.
Johnston tripled in her lone plate appearance. Grote singled, was hit by a pitch and reached on an error. Gilbert singled, walked and reached on an error. Petry had a single. Courtney Bryson, Lani Shilt and Pressnall each drew walks.
Greenville now advances to play at noon Saturday in the regional finals in Mason. A win would send the Lady Wave to the state final four in Akron for the first time since 2012.
“We stubbed our toe a couple straight,” Newland said. “At the beginning of the year (we said) we’re going to win at Mason. That’s been the motto we came down to. Absolutely, the bulls eye’s on the back, but we’re going to Akron. It’s Akron or bust is all year what we said. Bottom line it’s Akron or bust. I can’t way ’til Saturday.”
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.