By ANDY WOLF
FOR THE COURIER
BLOOMDALE — With her team trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning, junior Rebecca Harvey launched a three-run homer over the left field fence to give Elmwood the lead.
From there, it was all Royals.
Harvey later doubled and singled, and she finished with five RBIs to help Elmwood secure a 12-2 Division III sectional championship victory against Delta in less than five complete innings Monday.
Harvey’s home run was her eighth of the season, breaking the single-season school record set last year by Brittany George.
“Usually, my best hits are my swings that I don’t try so hard,” Harvey said. “I just relaxed, saw the pitch and was able to make contact.”
Elmwood (19-3) advances to face Evergreen at 5 p.m. Wednesday in a district semifinal at Rolf Park in Maumee.
Miranda Benschoter (19-3) picked up the complete-game win, allowing two earned runs on six hits and no walks with six strikeouts.
Benschoter also went 4 for 4 while facing only five pitches from Delta’s Hayley Wanless, racking up a double and three singles.
Wanless (10-10) allowed nine earned runs, 15 hits and two walks to take the loss.
The Panthers (15-11) came out swinging from the very beginning against Benschoter as Alexa Lauch led off with a single and Nikole Kern doubled. Morgan Macionsky brought home Lauch with a sacrifice fly to center field to put Delta on the board.
One batter later Tess Osterhout singled up the middle to give Delta a 2-0 lead.
“You had to come out and be really aggressive against (Benschoter),” Delta coach Sam Keesey said. “She’s a phenomenal pitcher where if she hits her spots she’s really on.”
Benschoter quickly worked out of the inning and led off the bottom of the first with a single.
After Olivia Myers reached on an error, Harvey brought both runners home with her three-run bomb.
Madison Arnold followed up with a triple, and two batters later Chelsie Schmitz sent Arnold home with a single. The Royals led 4-2 after one inning.
“I’ve got a very potent lineup, one through nine,” Elmwood coach Matt Hoiles said. “I like our lineup. You have to tip your hat to Delta because we were still hitting a pretty good pitcher.”
The Royals stayed hot in the second inning as Jayla Kynard and Benschoter led off with back-to-back doubles.
Kynard scored on a Myers groundout and Harvey followed up with a run-scoring double to make it 6-2.
“We did really well for not playing for a week with all the cancellations we’ve had,” Harvey said referring to rainouts last week. “We came together as a team and put hits together to get runs on the board.”
Harvey later came around to score on a throwing error by the Panthers and the Royals led 7-2 after two innings.
From there, Benschoter retired eight straight batters into the fourth inning before surrendering back-to-back singles to Alexia Rudnicki and Wanless.
“(Benschoter) wasn’t hitting her spots in the first three innings, but after that she got her groove back,” Hoiles said. “It was nice to see her regroup and do what she needed.”
After the two runners reached base, Delta’s threat ended when Schmitz nailed pinch-runner Maddie Zimmerman at second base on an attempted steal.
“We did everything we wanted to against (Benschoter),” Keesey said. “We just made a few simple mistakes that we shouldn’t have.”
Schmitz notched her second RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning before the Royals tacked on four runs more in the fifth inning to reach the run rule.
In the final inning, Arnold smacked a two-run single and Jasmine Marsh singled in the final run of the game.
“We like to keep the hammer down,” Hoiles said of generating consistent offense, “(though) there are going to be some scoreless innings. I’m very happy with this team, and we’ve got a very busy week. This is the tournament trail and I hope this is a long week for us.”
Delta 200 00 — 2 6 4
Elmwood 430 14 — 12 15 0
WP — Benschoter (19-3). LP — Wanless (10-10). top hitters: (Del) Kern 2B; Osterhout 1B, RBI; Rudnicki 2-1B. (Elm) Benschoter 2B, 3-1B; Myers 1B, RBI; Harvey HR, 2B, 1B, 5 RBI; George 1B, RBI; Schmitz 1B, 2 RBI; Kenard 2B, 1B.
records: Elmwood 19-3; Delta 15-11.