ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — The Lady Marauders were held to just one hit, but it came at the right time and proved to be all they needed.
The second-seeded Meigs softball team seized a 2-1 victory over third-seeded Waverly, in Saturday’s Division II sectional final at Dreams Field in Meigs County, thanks to a two-run double by MHS senior Danielle Morris, with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Meigs (20-3) — which gave up the first run of the game in the top of the fourth inning — had just two base runners over the first five inning, as Morris and Breanna Zirkle both drew walks.
The Lady Marauders’ third baserunner of the game was Ciera Older, who led off the sixth inning with a base on balls. The next batter, MHS senior Devyn Oliver grounded to the Waverly (16-11) shortstop, who got the lead runner at second base, but couldn’t turn the double play.
“Because of her speed they didn’t get her at first,” third-year MHS head coach Bryan Swann said of Oliver, who also competes as one of the top sprinters on the Meigs track and field team. “It was a sure double play that they didn’t get and it turned out to be a big play in the game.”
After a strikeout for the second out of the inning, MHS senior Alliyah Pullins worked the count full, before drawing a walk. After a timeout by Waverly, Oliver and Pullins advanced to third and second base respectively on a double steal.
“I was borderline on doing it, I was probably going to back off from doing it, and (Oliver) came to me and said lets do it,” Swann said of the double steal play. “Of course she is one of the faster kids on the team and that made the difference in the game.”
With both runners in scoring position, Morris, the MHS cleanup batter, came through with the team’s only hit of the day, a line drive double to left centerfield. Oliver’s run tied the game and Pullins scored the game-winning run on Morris’ hit.
“It was just huge,” Swann said of Morris’ game-winning double. “We struggled against this pitcher. We talked all year about stepping up during big times. In pregame ‘Eye of the Tiger’ came on, when (Morris) got up to bat I pulled my sunglasses up and said ‘See it? The Eye of the Tiger’. She stepped up and did her thing.”
Waverly hit back-to-back two out singles in the seventh inning, but Pullins struck out the next batter to strand the potential game-tying run at second base and seal the 2-1 MHS victory.
“I’ve talked all week that they had a good pitcher, their pitcher is signed with Ball State, and we had to keep it close to give ourselves a chance,” Swann said. “I’m just happy for these kids. That’s the kind of pressure that we’ve needed to feel all year, we felt it and we came through.”
Pullins was the winning pitcher of record in a complete game for hosts, striking out two and allowing one earned run, on four hits and one hit batter.
“This was definitely a pitchers’ duel,” Swann said. “(Pullins) hit her spots well again, just like she did against Chillicothe. Sometimes they hit the ball where we wanted them to hit it and that’s all you can ask for out of your pitcher.”
Suffering the loss was WHS senior Hannah Robinson, who struck out seven batters in a complete game effort. Robinson allowed two earned runs, on one hit and four walks.
Robinson also led the Lady Tiger offense, going 2-for-3 with an RBI in the fourth inning, when she singled home Mariah Burton, with two outs. Kalicia Doles and Shalee Heistead each added a single for the guests.
The Lady Marauders committed both of the game’s errors. Waverly left seven runners on base, while the Maroon and Gold stranded three.
Meigs has now won sectional titles in three of the last four seasons, with the lone exception being last spring, when Waverly knocked off the Lady Marauders by an 8-0 count in the sectional final, also at MHS.
“I’m so happy for the kids, they deserve it,” Swann said. “This is also our 20th win, which was another goal of ours at the beginning of the year. Sectional, league and district titles were also goals, so we have one more goal to meet.”
Meigs will work on reaching that goal against top-seeded Sheridan in Monday’s district semifinal, at Ohio University.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.