DELAWARE – Junior Kirsten Kracht played a big role in Olentangy’s historic run to the state final four last season.
Tuesday, she went 4-for-4 with a walk, two triples, three runs and an RBI to lead the Olentangy Berlin softball team to its first ever tournament win.
“Coach (Alan) Tharp and coach Liz (Yanez) have always been great coaches,” Kracht said. “He coaches a really good team and it was so much fun to be a part of that. We molded together as a team at Olentangy and I was able to bring that here and use my leadership to bring my team together.”
The 14th-seeded Bears used a five-run third inning to take control and added on from there on their way to a 10-6 win at Buckeye Valley in the first round of the Division II district tournament.
“We’re a brand-new program,” Kracht said. “In the beginning – we were losing some. But we were losing close games. We’ve just come together as a team and it’s really exciting because we’re a good team for a first-year program.”
Kracht broke the seal on a scoreless tie with an RBI single in the third. Maia Crumb drove in two more with a double to deep left and two more runs scored on an error to stake Berlin to a 5-0 lead.
Nina Peak and Rylee George each drove in runs and two more scored on errors to help the Barons climb back to 5-4 in the bottom half. George finished with two hits for the 13th-seeded Barons.
But Kracht came through with a two-out triple and scored on Lexie Lewis’ RBI single to give the Bears (8-14) a 6-4 lead in the fourth.
Kracht also tripled in the sixth and scored on an Allie Burkhart sacrifice fly.
“Kirsten Kracht has been very consistent for us,” Berlin coach Jenna Haskins said. “That’s the reason she’s our leadoff hitter. She’s very confident and has that swag that you want from a leadoff hitter. When you have a leadoff hitter that can hit doubles and triples – you’re going to win a lot of games.”
Remi Camp added an RBI double in the fifth and an RBI triple in the seventh and Autumn LeFevre drove in a run with a single to push the Berlin lead as high 10-4 in the seventh.
“It’s not a better time to peak,” Haskins said. “Everyone’s making a contribution – from the top of the lineup to the middle to the bottom. It’s kind of been sporadic throughout the season and right now we’re turning it on … it’s exciting to be peaking right now.”
Olivia Schick had two hits, including an RBI double in the seventh. She scored twice to lead the Barons (10-11). Lilly Irvine also hit an RBI double in the seventh to account for the final margin.
“We’re used to being down from the beginning of the season,” BV coach Mindy Eisnaugle said. “That’s something that we’ve gotten better at toward the end of the season. They’re used to coming back and fighting and battling through. We tried again there at the end, but we just couldn’t pull through.”
Irvine started and allowed five runs, three earned, over 2.1 innings before giving way to Anika Craft, who gave up five runs over four innings in relief for BV. Lane Graham finished off the final two-thirds of an inning scoreless.
“They just hit some gaps and I don’t think we made too many mistakes as far as giving them unearned runs,” Eisnaugle said. “They were just hitting those gaps and that kills us sometimes.”
BV played without two of its top players in Cora Hollingsworth and Lexi Richardson. Hollingworth was out with a concussion and Richardson suffered a knee injury.
“Saturday, I was feeling so good coming into this game,” Eisnaugle said. “We were playing so well. It started clicking and over the weekend a couple of bad things happened and that kind of throws a curveball at them.”
Ally Siegrist allowed three runs, two earned, over the first 2.2 innings and Kali Bateman went the final 4.1 innings and allowed three runs, two earned, for the Bears.
Berlin advances to the second round where it’ll travel to Marengo to take on sixth-seeded Highland Thursday at 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Barons have some MOAC business to finish up with two games left against Galion.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected]