CENTENARY, Ohio — An unlucky 13 on Friday the 13th.
The Gallia Academy softball team left 13 runners on base in Friday night’s Division III sectional final in Gallia County, and the fourth-seeded Blue Angels dropped a 6-4 decision in eight innings to fifth-seeded Southeastern.
Gallia Academy (9-18) — which hasn’t won a sectional crown since 2012 — jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, as Paxton Roberts scored on a triple by Hunter Copley, who was then driven in by Makenzie Barr.
With one out in the bottom of the first, GAHS junior Shelby Long doubled — putting two runners in scoring position. Gallia Academy’s second out of the inning came on a strikeout, but Southeastern hit the next batter to load the bases. However, GAHS left the bases loaded, as the Lady Panthers got a fly-out to center field to end the inning.
Southeastern tied the game at two in the top of the second inning, as Lexy Cooper singled home Erica Cockrell and Randra Simkins.
After being retired in order in the bottom of the second, the Blue Angels looked to regain the lead in the third inning, as they put two runners in scoring position with one out. However, a strikeout and a fly-out to the pitcher ended the inning and stranded both runners.
The Blue Angels were held hitless in the fourth and fifth frames, but Allie Clagg walked and Kim Edelmann singled to start the bottom of the sixth. Both runners made it into scoring position, but Southeastern escaped the inning unscathed, keeping the game tied at two.
The Lady Panthers began the top of the seventh with back-to-back hits, but Amanda Higley was throw out trying to score on a grounder by Makayla Carroll. With one out in the inning, Audrie Wheeler singled home Cooper, giving SHS a 3-2 lead.
After Jessica Bolte bunted for a hit to load the bases, Carroll scored on a sac-fly by Cindellynn Murta, giving the guests a 4-2 lead. However, the next batter flew out to second base, leaving two runners in scoring position.
Copley doubled to lead off the bottom of the seventh for the Blue Angels, and she advanced to third base on single by Barr, who then stole second base. The GAHS deficit was trimmed to one run, as Copley scored on a passed ball with no outs in the inning.
Following back-to-back strikeouts, GAHS tied the game as Allie Young singled home pinch runner Aubrey Unroe. An error by Southeastern put the potential winning run in scoring position, but a strikeout ended the frame and forced extra innings.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the eighth inning, Wheeler drew a base on balls, plating Simkins and giving the guests a 5-4 lead. SHS added in insurance run in the next at-bat, as Jessica Bolte singled home Higley.
Trailing 6-4, GAHS got a single by Ryleigh Caldwell to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Caldwell advanced to second base on a passed ball, but the Lady Panthers recorded a pair of quick outs. The Blue Angels loaded the bases, as Barr singled and Jenna Meadows walked, but a strikeout stranded all three runners and sealed the 6-4 Southeastern win.
“It’s a little disappointing, we could get them on base, but we just couldn’t bring them around,” third-year GAHS head coach Scott Stanley said. “We left 13 on base, that’s a big number. Overall this year, we’ve left a lot on base and that’s hurt us all year.”
Cooper was the winning pitcher of record for SHS, allowing four runs, three earned, on 10 hits and five free passes, while striking out 12. Copley struck out eight and suffered the loss in the circle for Gallia Academy, surrendering six runs, four earned, on 12 hits and five walks. Both Cooper and Copley pitcher complete games.
Barr — who is Gallia Academy’s lone senior — led the hosts at the plate, going 3-for-4 with one RBI and one stolen base. Copley was 2-for-5 with one triple, one double, two runs scored and one RBI, Young singled once and drove in one run, while Long added a double. Meadows, Edelmann and Caldwell each singled once in the setback, while Roberts and Unroe each scored once.
Cooper led Southeastern at the plate, going 2-for-5 with one double, one run scored and two RBI. Wheeler was 2-for-3 with two RBI and one stolen base, Jessica Bolte was 2-for-4 with one RBI and one stolen base, while Simkins singled once and scored twice. Higley, Carroll and Cockrell each singled once and scored once, Murta added a single and an RBI, while Autumn Bolte was 1-for-2 with a single.
Gallia Academy committed one error in the loss, while SHS had two defensive mishaps.
Southeastern — which advances to the district tournament for the first time since 2006, when SHS was in Division IV — will meet top-seeded Westfall at Unioto High School on Wednesday. The Lady Mustangs topped Lynchburg Clay by a 16-0 count in Friday night’s sectional final at WHS.
This marks the final game in the Blue and White for GAHS senior Makenzie Barr, who is signed to play softball at OU-Chillicothe, next season.
“We’re only losing one senior in Makenzie Barr,” Stanley said.”It’s going to be a big hole to fill, she’s been a varsity player for four years. We’re going to work over the summer, we’ll have a lot of juniors coming back and we’ll have some freshmen coming in that are pretty good. So, we should be climbing and we should be alright.”
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.