Allie Luther’s two-run single to center field in the eighth inning was the lasting blow in a back-and-forth game, and the Pickerington High School Central softball team upset Delaware 8-6 in a Division I district final May 25 at Central.
The ninth-seeded Tigers (21-8) had taken the lead on the top-seeded Pacers (22-4) with two runs in the fourth and led 6-4 with two outs in the seventh, but sophomore pitcher Hannah Gilkey made an errant throw to first on a groundball and Delaware scored twice to tie it.
Sophomore outfielder Paige Johnson began the Central eighth with a bunt single. Two walks, a sacrifice and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases before Luther, a junior shortstop, took a full-count pitch to center to give the Tigers the lead and their second consecutive district title.
“Our hitters have been hitting all year,” coach Carrie Eneix said. “When (Luther) came up, I told her there was nobody I’d rather have up than her. I just know she’s resilient and tough. I am proud of her for coming through.”
All the runs in the game were scored with two outs.
Central sophomore third baseman Hunter Brancifort’s three-run home run in the third inning opened the scoring. But Delaware answered with four runs in the bottom of the third on RBI singles by junior pitcher Mikayla Cooper and senior outfielder Abbey Frey and a two-run single by freshman second baseman Adia Witter.
Tigers senior center fielder Molly Riggs’ slow roller through the middle of the infield in the fourth scored two runs as Central rallied to make it 6-4.
Central will play Grove City in a regional semifinal May 29 at Ohio State. The Greyhounds defeated the Tigers in two OCC-Ohio games during the regular season, 16-3 on April 15 and 15-5 on May 1.
The winner will play OCC-Ohio rival Gahanna or two-time defending state champion North Canton Hoover in a regional final June 1.