By ANDREW WILLIAMS
ARLINGTON — With temperatures in the upper 40s, consistent winds and even a little rain, it felt more like an early season game played at the beginning of April than a postseason contest taking place in mid-May when Arlington and Riverdale met Thursday.
The Falcons, particularly catcher Julia Naus, didn’t seem to mind.
The junior lead-off hitter smacked a pair of doubles and added a two-RBI single to center in the fourth inning to lead Riverdale to a Division IV sectional title with a 4-2 win against Arlington.
With the victory, the Falcons (16-9) advance to the district semifinals where they will face Carey (15-6) at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Kenton High School. The Blue Devils defeated Arcadia (13-8) to capture a sectional crown.
Arlington got on the board first when Allie Sheldon’s RBI double in the bottom of the second plated Aaliyah Comstock.
Riverdale answered in the top of the third when Aricka Hill scored on a throwing error, but the Red Devils retook the lead 2-1 when Courtney Stoltz raced home on a throwing error in the bottom half of the inning.
The Falcons had another answer to start the fourth frame, though.
Janessa Taylor walked, Hannah Morris singled and Shelby McKamey reached on an error in consecutive at-bats to load the bases with one out. Victoria Penwell drew a walk to score Taylor before Naus belted an 0-2 pitch through the middle of the infield to bring in Morris and McKamey and give Riverdale a 4-2 advantage.
“We were fortunate to get Julia Naus up with bases loaded,” Riverdale coach Luke Swavel said. “She’s come up with hit after hit. She’s been hitting doubles, triples, home runs the last three weeks of the season.
“She’s seeing the ball really well, so I was glad to see her up in that situation. Even with two strikes, I’m confident where she’s going to put the ball in play.”
Despite coming up with three of the team’s seven hits and driving in half of the runs, Naus was quick to deflect any individual credit.
“Being with my team definitely helps,” she said. “We’ve definitely supported each other more than we ever have and I think that’s just a big part of it. I kind of struggled at the beginning of the year and I’ve worked a bunch. It feels really good to come a long way.”
While Naus took care of business at the plate, Taylor Farmer worked through the tough weather conditions in the circle to shut down Arlington.
The Red Devils left at least one runner on base in each of the final six innings, including six in the four innings after the Falcons regained the lead, and stranded six in scoring position in the contest.
“That hurts a lot. That’s probably the difference in the game,” Arlington coach Gregg Feller said. “A few of the times we had runners in scoring position I thought we had the right batter up and we just didn’t get it done. We didn’t hit the ball near as well as we can. They hit the ball pretty well today.”
Farmer scattered seven hits in seven innings, allowing one earned run with five strikeouts and three walks.
The sophomore struck out the final two batters in the second inning to leave a runner stranded on third, recorded two strikeouts and a groundout in the fourth after giving up two singles to start the inning, and worked around a lead-off single in the sixth to strand runners at first and third.
“I couldn’t do it without the defense behind me,” Farmer said. “I pitch it in there and I’m ready for them to hit it back at me but so is my defense. We’re all working together, getting outs anywhere we can.”
Said Swavel: “She’s been making a habit of that the last part of the season. Girls on first and second, second and third, she just bows up and gets the outs.
“The wind and the rain played a factor. Both pitchers weren’t probably as sharp as they are normally. Tonight, ours was a little bit better.”
Riverdale 001 300 0 — 4 7 1
Arlington 011 000 0 — 2 7 3
WP — Farmer. LP — B. Johnson (13-5). top hitters: (Riv) Naus 1B, 2-2B, 2 RBI. (Arl) Sheldon 2-1B, 2B, RBI.
records: Riverdale 16-9; Arlington 15-5.
By ANDREW WILLIAMS