Crestview wins on swing that was supposed to be a bunt
FINDLAY — Madison Etzler was not supposed to be swinging. After all, swinging the bat had not produced many positive results to that point.
But the Convoy Crestview senior missed the bunt sign and instead blasted a hard ground ball down the third base line and all the way to the fence to produce the go-ahead run in the Knights’ 4-1 Division IV regional final victory against Mohawk on Saturday at Findlay High School.
Etzler scored on a passed ball and Crestview added one more run that inning, finally taking advantage of the 11 walks it drew in the game. The Knights advance to the state semifinals for the 10th time in the last 13 years, denying the sixth-ranked Warriors their third appearance in the last 10 years.
To that point, No. 3-ranked Crestview (26-5) had managed only an infield single in the first inning, and with Taylor Hamrick at first base after she drew a leadoff walk, Etzler was supposed to be attempting a bunt to try to advance the runner into scoring position.
“It was just a miscommunication,” Crestview coach Owen Pugh. “She did attempt that first pitch with a bunt and didn’t get it done and when we came back the next time, the bunt was still on and she just didn’t realize that, and I didn’t care after she hit it.”
Etzler said she had to follow through on her part of a bargain with Hamrick before the inning began.
“I looked at Hamrick and I told her, ‘Get on and I’ll find a way to get you in somehow,’” she said. “I told her we were going back to little league days when we were 10 years old and she said, ‘Deal.’ When she got on, I knew I had to do anything to get her in to get our team up.”
That broke a 1-all tie in the top of the sixth inning, and after Etzler scored, Taylor Springer walked, took second on another walk, stole third and scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-1.
Mohawk (21-6) had one of its best scoring chances in the bottom of the sixth, getting back-to-back singles by Ashley Cooper and Taylor McClain to start the inning, but Crestview freshman pitcher Terra Crowle struck out two of the next three hitters to get out of the jam and then struck out the side in the seventh inning to end the game.
Not a real hard thrower, Crowle mixed her speeds well, allowing seven hits and one walk with nine strikeouts.
“Their pitcher kept us off balance at the plate,” Mohawk coach Jenny Weinandy said. “She threw her pitches, her change-ups, really, really well. They sort of hit our soft spot there. We had some excellent hits, but we just couldn’t get people on base.”
The Knights took an early 1-0 lead on an unearned run in the top of the first inning. Slap hitter McKenzie Nofer tapped the ball toward third base, and the the hurried, low throw got past first base and went into the photographer’s box, allowing Nofer to take second base. She was bunted over to third and scored on a groundout by Danica Hicks.
Sarah Runion and Cooper had consecutive doubles with one out in the third inning to knot the game at 1. McClain grounded out to shortstop and Cooper was thrown out trying to take third base after the throw to first to end that scoring threat.
Runion single in the first inning but was caught stealing, and Molli Cartwright and Dani Tyree had singles in the second and fourth innings, respectively, but they were left stranded at first base.
“We just couldn’t produce one hit right after the other,” Weinandy said.
With Mohawk pitcher Kasey Adelsperger (19-5) struggling with her control, Crestview missed on big scoring opportunities, twice loading the bases and failing to produce any runs.
Adelsperger walked the first three batters in the third inning, but Holy Genth popped up a bunt, leading to a double play and Adelsperger got a flyout to the inning without harm.
The next inning, Hamrick drew a leadoff walk, was bunted over to second and took third on a passed ball. But Adelsperger came through with a strikeout, and after two more walks to load the bases, she got a popup for the third out.
After his team missed on two major scoring chances, Pugh said he though it would get another opportunity, but he was hoping it would be enough.
“I thought we were probably going to get more chances, but I was concerned that they were going to score a couple times and then I didn’t know what was going to happen for sure,” he said.
Finally, in the sixth inning, the walks caused Adelsperger and the Warriors some harm. She ended allowing just two hits, but gave up 11 walks while striking out five.
“We probably executed the best game plan we have all year,” Crestview assistant coach Carl Etzler said. “When you look at it and see only two hits, we told the girls we have got to be patient and we cannot go up top. The other night, she threw a nice ball game and she would start it here and she would just move it up. Every one of our kids got in the box and they did what they were supposed to do and that was not chase. They made her throw.”
Hamrick drew three walks, while Crowle and Hicks each took two bases on balls.
The top two hitters in Mohawk’s lineup, Runion and Cooper each had two hits to lead Mohawk offensively.
“It was a great game,” Weinandy said. “I knew it was going to be a great game. Unfortunately, we came out on the other end of it.”
Crestview faces No. 1 Strasburg-Franklin (25-4) in the state semifinals at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
Score by innings
Crestview 100 003 0 — 4 2 0
Mohawk 001 000 0 — 1 7 2
WP: Crowle; LP: K. Adelsperger (19-5).
2B: S. Runion (M), Cooper (M).
3B: Etzler (C).
By LONNIE McMILLAN