By MICHAEL BURWELL
New Riegel entered Wednesday’s Division IV regional softball semifinal game against Wayne Trace with some impressive offensive statistics: 20 home runs, a team batting average around .400, five players hitting .388 or better, scoring almost 10 runs a game.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, none of that mattered to Raiders’ pitcher Addison Baumle.
Baumle limited New Riegel’s high-powered offense to just three hits, struck out eight batters over seven innings and didn’t allow a run or a walk as the Raiders edged the Blue Jackets 1-0 at the Marathon Diamonds in Findlay.
Wayne Trace advances to Saturday’s regional final to be played at noon at the Marathon Diamonds. The Raiders (21-7) will afce the winner of today’s regional semifinal between Patrick Henry (20-3) and Lakota (19-7).
New Riegel’s season ends at 25-5.
“If you would have told us we’d come in here and shut New Riegel out, I’d had said you were crazy,” said Wayne Trace coach Jack Baumle. “I really would have, but with the control that Addy has, we were confident coming in with her.”
In the first inning, Baumle struck out Morgan Noftz (.402 BA) and Taylor Arbogast (.388 BA), and forced a soft line out to the shortstop from the Midland Athletic League Player of the Year Taylor Kirian.
“We didn’t want to pitch around them,” Addison Baumle said. “We take that as admitting defeat beforehand so we just pitched right to them and made them hit our pitch.”
That inning was an indication of things to come.
New Riegel had runners on second and third with two outs in the top of the third inning after Noftz’ bunt single and Kirian’s double to left field. But Arbogast was out trying to reach base on a bunt down the third base line when Wayne Trace’s Bailey Bergman made the throw to first to end the inning.
“I didn’t like Taylor’s at bat the first time up and I kinda thought the odds were in her favor to beat out a bunt,” said New Riegel head coach Jamie Lininger. “Hindsight’s 20-20, but you hate to have a .400 batter bunt with runners on second and third.”
As good as Baumle was pitching for Wayne Trace, Kirian was just as effective, especially with her defense behind her. She allowed just one hit, an infield single by Carley Wright, and two base runners in the first five innings.
A couple clutch hits in the sixth inning, however, gave the Raiders the run they needed.
Mackenzie Swary, the No. 9 batter for Wayne Trace, singled over New Riegel shortstop Kara Scherger to lead off the inning. She advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Emilie Linder and went to third after Brenda Feasby flew out to right field.
Libby Stabler ripped an RBI double down the left field line to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead.
“Libby’s not a power hitter for us, but she’s a contact hitter and she’ll put the ball in play,” Jack Baumle said. “She’s just been doing a great job for us and that was just clutch. That was phenomenal and just great to see the senior come through like that.”
With the wind blowing around 20 mph straight toward home plate from left field, both teams had trouble hitting the ball, combining for just seven hits (five singles, two doubles). Kirian said the wind made pitching easier, but hitting tougher.
“It helps pitching move the ball a little more, a little faster,” Kirian said. “And then hitting it’s really hard to hit straight into the wind, which is what we were doing all night, so it’s always difficult and as you can see, both teams were having trouble hitting. The wind was definitely a factor.”
New Riegel had a chance to score in the top of the seventh after Scherger ripped a lead-off single up the middle. She stole second base on the next pitch, and Lauren Zoeller reached on an error to give the Blue Jackets runners on first and second with no outs.
Hailey Theis tried to reach on a bunt, but the ball popped straight up and into the glove of the catcher, Swary. Leah Bouillon hit a lineout to Feasby in center field on the next pitch. After Scherger and Zoeller stole third and second base, respectively, on the very next pitch, pinch-hitter Lauren Ladd struck out to end the game.
“I think normally we win games with our bats, so it’s a little different to not see us hit as much,” Kirian said. “But I think we played as hard as we could the whole game.”
Kirian finished the season with a 24-5 pitching record. The loss snapped the Blue Jackets’ 13-game winning streak.
New Riegel 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
Wayne Trace 000 001 x — 1 4 2
WP — Baumle. LP — Kirian (24-5). top hitters: (NR) Kirian 2B. (WT) Stabler 2B, RBI.
records: New Riegel 25-5, Wayne Trace 21-7.