Junior Erika Brehm provided the big blow with a two-run single as part of a four-run rally in the seventh that sent the Olentangy softball team past host Big Walnut 6-3 in non-league action Monday in Sunbury.
Junior Sophie Low didn’t realize her team was down to its last three outs when she worked a five-pitch walk to open the deciding inning.
“I was basically just thinking about getting on base and working the count,” she said.
After a sacrifice moved Low to second, freshman Sylvia Kelly fouled off three pitches before working a 3-2 walk of her own.
Freshman Peyton Cox hit a sharp grounder to second for an infield hit to load the bases, setting up Brehm’s go-ahead hit.
Brehm, who grounded into a double-play to end the fifth in her first at-bat off the bench, lined a single to center to give Olentangy a 4-3 lead.
“I thought she hit it pretty solid (in her first at-bat) … and I thought I’d keep her in there,” Olentangy coach Alan Tharpe said. “That was a big hit.”
Olentangy (3-1) added two more runs on errors for the final margin.
Low was solid all game in the circle. She retired the first six batters she faced and the final eight of the game.
She wiggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam thanks to a running snag by Morgan Cox behind second to rob a hit from Stacey Walters.
“I know I have a really solid defense backing me up,” Low said.
Low went the distance, allowing three runs (one earned) on eight hits and six strikeouts for the win.
“Last year, we had that one ugly inning and we never recovered from it on offense,” Tharpe said. “The difference is, this year, we’re recovering from it. We had one (ugly inning tonight) and we recovered from it.”
Peyton Cox and Kristen Bartel led Olentangy with two hits apiece. Cox also led with two runs scored.
Walters battled in the circle for Big Walnut, but was saddled with the loss.
She gave up runs in the first and second innings, but held Olentangy scoreless until the seventh. She was charged with six runs (one earned) on five hits and seven walks and struck out three in the complete game.
She got out of bases-loaded jams in the third and fourth innings before settling down.
“Stacey’s getting better – she pitched pretty decent against a good-hitting team,” Golden Eagles coach Jeff Hatfield said. “(Olentangy is) going to be one of the better teams in the county, if not Central Ohio, this year.”
Bartel’s double in the first gave Olentangy the early lead and Peyton Cox opened the second with a base hit and later scored on an error.
Senior Jessica Coletta got BW into the hit column with a looping single to left to open the third and Taryn Hammond sent courtesy runner Mariah Chattos home with a two-out single later in the frame to cut it to 2-1.
Junior Alexyss Bullock lined a one-out single to center in the fourth and Walters followed with a sharp single to right. Courtesy runner Bella Holderby and Walters scored on an error to give the Eagles the lead.
Hammond and Bullock led BW (1-2) with two hits and Coletta had a hit and a RBI.
“I feel pretty good about where we’re at,” Hatfield said. “We’re battling … we just have to cut down on the mental errors – catching and throwing.”
Both teams are right back at it today at 5:15 p.m. BW hosts Whetstone and Olentangy hosts Hilliard Darby in a rematch of last year’s district tournament second-round game won by the Panthers.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.