RICHMOND - The Buckeye Local softball team put up eight runs in the first three innings of its Division II Sectional semifinal game against Edison and then backed up pitcher Angela Primovic with strong defense en route to a 9-4 victory at Jefferson Lake State Park on Wednesday.
"This girl's (Primovic) given us fits for the last couple years now," Edison coach Spencer Bendle said. "I go back to last year, I think she pitched a few innings against us and I don't think we hit the ball real well against her then. She's thrown three times against us this year and she just has our number.
"She did a nice job again (Wednesday). Let's give that pitcher credit."
Buckeye Local’s Kaylee Decesare belts a homer Wednesday.
Photo by Fred Younce
The Wildcats drew first blood in the top of the first. With two outs, Trisha Trifonoff reached base on the Panthers' only error and Kayla Prokopakis took care of things from there with a home run to make the score 2-0 Edison.
"They have enough confidence in themselves hitting the ball," Buckeye Local coach Joe Soos said of his team after it fell behind early. "They've been hitting the ball all year, and I didn't think two for them was going to get it done. I felt really confident we were going to hit the ball and we did. We've been hitting it all year.
"When you can do that, you can go out and just play the game."
In the bottom of the inning, Buckeye got one of those runs back. Dana Bettineschi reached first on a fielder's choice and then took second with a stolen base. Bettineschi took third on a Karlee Leonard single and then crossed home plate when Kierstyn Czuchran picked up a single of her own to cut the deficit to 2-1.
After the Wildcats went down in order in the top of the second, the Panthers struck again. Lauren Swiger led off the inning with a single and took second on an error. She scored two batters late when Sydney Omaits reached on an error to end up on second. Omaits advanced to third on a Taryn Tonkovich two-out base knock and was driven home on a Bettineschi single. Leonard and Czuchran drove home Tonkovich and Bettineschi with singles of their own to make the score 5-2 Panthers after two innings.
"Location might have been a little bit of an issue at times," Bendle said. "For the most part they had a lot of seeing eye hits though. They hit the ball just out of the reach of our infield.
"Give Buckeye credit. They were able to find the holes to get the ball through the infield."
Another Edison goose egg led to the Panthers going right back to work in the third. Kaylee Decesare led off the inning with a solo shot over the left field fence. Omaits and Tonkovich reached base on a walk and an error, respectively, and ultimately both touched home plate to make the score 8-2 Buckeye Local after three.
The scored stayed that way until the top of the fifth when Kayla Prokopakis struck again for the Wildcats. After Kristin Prokopakis slapped a single to left Kayla came up two batters later and drove a shot to left field for her second two-run dinger of the game to make the score 8-4.
Buckeye added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Bettineschi led off with a single and two batters later Tori Nest drove her in with a two-out base knock for Bettineschi's third run scored of the game and the 9-4 Panthers lead.
Bettineschi also made herself known in the top of the seventh with the game-ending play. Caitlyn Brenstuhl sat on second with two outs after her second double. Trisha Trifonoff hit a hard groundball between short and third where Bettineschi made a nice play to scoop up the ball. Trifonoff had the play beat out for a single and what looked to be runners on first and third, but Bettineschi made a heads up play to make the toss to third just in time to allow the third baseman, Leonard, to apply a tag to Brenstuhl and secure the 9-4 Panthers' victory.
"Smart play defensively and there was a backup by the right fielder the inning before to get a runner going to second," Soos said. "They've been in position all year long and once in a while it pays off. Hats off to them because they're doing what they're supposed to do.
For the Panthers Indian Creek awaits them today at Jefferson Lake State Park with the sectional title on the line.