BELLBROOK — Exuding confidence of a team favored to win, underdog Carroll grabbed a big lead, kept its compusure during a strong Bellbrook comeback, and came away with a 5-4 win in a Division II sectional semifinals tournament softball game, May 10 at Bellbrook High.
The eighth seeded Carroll Patriots (11-12) rolled out to a 4-0 lead in their top half of the first inning, and appeared to be in command of Thursday’s contest with No. 7 seed Bellbrook (6-11).
Marina Stevens drew a walk then scored on a Golden Eagles fielding error, Audrey Ward singled to right and then scored on Maddie Erby’s single to center, Emma Hughes got on with a single, then scored on an errant pickoff throw to third, then Mara Beam singled to center as well to bring home Erby for the 4-0 lead.
Bellbrook began chipping away at the lead when sophomore slugger Kaley Clark launched a home run over the left center field fence for her sixth dinger of the season, putting the Golden Eagles on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first.
While Golden Eagles freshman pitcher Randi Holder and the Bellbrook defense kept Carroll from adding to its lead, Skylar Barlow hustled for an infield single to score Savannah Geldbaugh from third base with a second Eagles run, in the fourth inning.
Clean-up hitter Sami Seubert then smacked a double to left field to score Bellbrook teammates Emily Hughes and Clark in the fifth inning to tie the game at 4-all.
Carroll coach Cassandra Shea said her Patriots players never panicked.
“I’m so proud of this team. No. There was no panic in our dugout,” she said. “I think they believed they could win this, from the first pitch all the way to the last. … It felt good for us to grab the lead early. I think we got a little bit content, there in the middle innings, but Bellbrook was a great team that kept on goin’ the whole game. We were able to stay with them.”
Carroll pitcher Emma Hughes was a big reason for the Patriots success as well. She limited Bellbrook to seven hits in her seven innings of work.
Neither team could muster a score in the sixth inning, but Stevens, Carroll’s speedy leadoff batter, hustled to first to beat a high throw for an infield hit to start the top of the seventh inning. The Carroll senior moved to second on Ward’s sacrifice bunt, then raced home from second on an Erby single to centerfield.
After Stevens snared Emily Hughes’ line drive for the first Bellbrook out, Carroll catcher Lydia Hughes retired Brooke Tincher by making a quality catch against the backstop fence for the second. Clark, whom everyone knew could tie the game with one swing of the bat, came up next.
Clark lined a shot into right centerfield, where Carroll’s Camryn Joseph was there to make the game-ending grab. Joseph had a diving catch in shallow centerfield, and also had robbed Clark of a hit, earlier in the game as well.
“Carroll made some great defensive plays, and I think that made a big difference today,” Bellbrook coach Angela Cook said. “That catch that their shortstop (Stevens) made? I mean, that goes through it’s a double. And a couple of those balls that were hit to centerfield, (Joseph) came up and made the plays.”
Carroll advances to take on No. 1 seeded Greenville for the sectional title at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 15 at Tippecanoe High School. Before that, the Patriots have a regular season make-up game listed on their schedule for Friday, May 11 in Cincinnati against Roger Bacon.
Bellbrook loses seniors Chelsea Cozad, Savannah Geldbaugh and Tatyana Apanasewicz after this season. The Golden Eagles placed fifth in the Southwestern Buckeye League’s Southwestern division.