Pacers clinch Capital Division championship

By Eric Cline

May 6, 2014

If your team isn’t hitting, they’d better know how to manufacture runs.

The Hayes softball team scored three times in the third and three more in the fifth while junior pitcher Madi Huck tossed a two-hit shutout in the Pacers’ 6-0 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division win over New Albany on Senior Night Tuesday at Pacer Park.

The evening turned out to be twice as special. Not only were the four Hayes (18-1, 12-0) seniors — Lindsey Blair, Mikayla Cooper, Chandler Fields and Kaitlyn Woerner — honored before the game, but the win also secured the outright OCC Capital title.

“Wrapping up the OCC with two games to play is pretty nice, but these girls are hungry and they still want to go undefeated.” Hayes coach Mark Thomas said. “It was a great night for the seniors all the way around, but like they said after the game, they’re not done playing.”

Hits were hard to get all evening, but despite just six hits in the game, four by the Pacers, Hayes was able to score runs with more than just hits, using bunts, heads-up baserunning, New Albany (11-9, 6-4) errors and even a wild pitch to bring runners around.

“We had to make things happen,” Thomas said. “Madi pitched a great game, we made some great plays on defense and we had to manufacture runs. We talked during the game about how we had to get some bunts down and make (New Albany pitcher Sydney) Warinner come out of the circle, and we were successful at it.”

Huck and the defense also helped keep the Eagles off the base paths. The junior right-hander worked all seven innings, allowing just the two hits plus a walk while striking out eight. Huck threw 58 of her 85 pitches for strikes, and threw first pitch strikes to 17 of the 26 New Albany batters.

“Madi pitched a great game tonight,” Thomas said. “She led the way. She kept the ball low and forced them to hit the ball on the ground.”

The Pacer defense had two errors in the game, but neither came back to bite them. Instead, Hayes shook them off and made some solid plays afterward.

“We’re going to make some errors in the field, but I think we’re a pretty good team,” Thomas said. “We don’t get down on ourselves, we pick each other up in the field and we come back and make those difficult plays on the back end.”

Hayes junior third baseman Caylin Morstadt started the offense in the third inning, blooping a one-out single just inside the left field line, and with New Albany second baseman Jackie Drago drawn in, junior Jordan Osborne slapped a single past her and into right field to send Morstadt to second.

Blair hit a ground ball to third base, but reached first on a dropped ball at first, which loaded the bases. Cooper then bunted the ball past New Albany’s Warinner on a squeeze play, but legged it into a base hit, scoring Morstadt with the first run.

“Cooper’s hit was actually a suicide squeeze,” Thomas said. “Teams tend to forget how good of a bunter she is with her batting average over .500 and hitting for power, but she put the bunt down perfectly and got the hit out of it instead. It was a great bunt.”

With an 0-1 count on Huck, Warinner threw a pitch behind Huck to the right side of the backstop, allowing Osborne to score and the other runners to move up. Huck then belted a 1-2 pitch to deep right for a sacrifice fly, scoring Blair from third.

Warinner left the game in the bottom of the fifth in favor of junior Olivia Shull, but the new pitcher missed on her first seven deliveries, hitting Morstadt and walking Osborne on four pitches.

Blair was retired on an infield fly to second base, but Cooper, down 1-2 in the count, worked a walk to load the bases. Huck then hit the first pitch she saw up the middle for a single to score Morstadt and Osborne.

Huck and the defense did the rest. Huck retired 11 of the final 13 batters she faced, allowing just two baserunners on her only walk and an error while striking out three, and the defense backed her up, getting solid plays from Huck, Woerner, Morstadt, Fields and Mackenzie Stonebraker to wrap things up.

Osborne, Cooper, Huck and Morstadt each finished with a single, with Huck driving in three runs and Cooper one.

Warinner took the loss, allowing three runs, two earned, three hits and a walk with three strikeouts in four innings. Shull gave up three runs, two earned, on one hit, two walks and a hit batsman with one strikeout in two innings of relief. Jaime Sevenish and Amber Mullen had the only two New Albany hits, both singles.

•Liberty secured a solid OCC-Central Division win Tuesday in Powell, dropping visiting Upper Arlington 12-7.

The Patriots (14-5) earned the win thanks in part to a pair of big innings. They scored six in the second to go up 6-1, and added four in the sixth to all but seal the deal. Their other two runs came in the fourth and fifth.

Meredith Bates led Liberty with three hits, two singles and a double, to go with two RBIs. Other standouts included Randi Noday, who was 3 for 5 with three singles and an RBI; Rylee Kashmiry and Madison Kadlic, who finished with two singles apiece; and Kaylin Lee, who had a double.

Kristen Adkins, meanwhile, notched the complete-game win in the circle.

•Big Walnut got to Worthington Kilbourne early and Kate Petty made the runs stand up as the Golden Eagles edged the Wolves 3-2 in OCC-Capital Division action Tuesday in Worthington.

After scoring a pair of runs in the first inning, the Eagles (13-7) added what proved to be the game-winning run in the third to smooth out their scoring summary.

Petty picked up the complete-game win in the circle.