POWELL – It’s safe to say that both Olentangy Liberty interim softball coach Ty Kashmiry and Newark coach Hollie Guenther didn’t anticipate a 10-inning pitcher’s duel after both talked up the merits of their respective offenses.
But Newark’s Logan Bannworth and Liberty’s Katelyn Wilhelm each threw over 150 pitches and went the distance.
Bannworth and Rylee Crosser ended up being the difference in the Wildcats’ 3-2 marathon win in the second round of the Division I district tournament Wednesday in Powell.
“I thought it was going to be a slugfest,” Guenther said. “My pitcher – she showed up and gave 100 percent. Their offense is scary.”
Crosser led off the 10th inning with a single and took second when the ball skipped by the left fielder. She moved to third on a bunt and scored when Bannworth grounded a ball deep in the hole that Liberty shortstop Sammy Leonhardt got to on a dive, but the throw was late to the plate.
Leonhardt snagged a blooper in short center field and turned it into a double play when she threw the runner out at third to end the inning.
Bannworth got the first two outs on two pitches before notching a strikeout to end the game in the bottom half.
“We went 10 innings and they fought all the way to the end,” Kashmiry said. “They’re just a great group of kids that fight and give me everything they have and it’s team first all the time.”
All told, Bannworth allowed eight hits and a walk and struck out seven – allowing two unearned runs for the 18th-seeded Wildcats (13-12).
Newark took the lead in the fourth inning when Rikia Moore hit a two-out single and scored from first on an error.
Closser hit an RBI single in the fifth to push the Newark lead to 2-0. She finished with three hits.
It was short-lived though. Wilhelm reached on an error and Dani Schoenly followed with a bunt for a hit. Two outs later, the duo scored on a throwing error to tie the game 2-2.
That’s where it stayed. Wilhelm had seven of her 16 strikeouts over the next four innings, giving up three walks along the way.
“As the game went on – she got better,” Kashmiry said. “She did a great job and I’m super-proud of her. Walsh is getting a great pitcher.”
She allowed three earned runs on eight hits and four walks and took the tough-luck loss for the eighth-seeded Patriots (17-8).
Liberty had runners in scoring position in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. The Patriots loaded the bases on an error and two hits in the seventh – all with two outs – but couldn’t break through.
“I just think the ball didn’t bounce for us today,” Kashmiry said. “Dani Schoenly hits a ball off the pitcher’s leg (in the seventh). If that ball goes through – the game’s over.”
“The best part is that we dug out of those innings,” Guenther said. “My defense supported my pitcher. We didn’t back down. We struck out a ton. Their pitcher did well. But we didn’t back down and got those few crucial plays and the runs that we needed.”
Newark advances to the district semifinal where it’ll face ninth-seeded Gahanna Lincoln Monday at 5 p.m. at a site to be announced.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.