Emma Spinney and the seniors on the Gahanna Lincoln High School softball team took the long road from graduation to a Division I regional championship May 27.
Instead of staying at Ohio State between the 9:30 a.m. commencement ceremony at the Schottenstein Center and the 2 p.m. regional final across the parking lot at Buckeye Field, the Lions decided to go back to the high school and ride the bus together to the game.
The move paid off, as Gahanna scored five times in the second inning to defeat Hilliard Bradley 6-2 for its first regional championship since 2011.
“All eight of us (seniors) were glad to have that (graduation) ceremony first, but it was good that we didn't walk over (to the stadium),” Spinney said. “We were able to get our minds right. If we had not have done that, it would have been a totally different game.”
The second-ranked Lions improved to 25-5 and advanced to play 10th-ranked Elyria in a state semifinal June 1 at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
Gahanna got all of the runs it would need in the second. Junior Addie Kittel led off with a solo home run over the left-field fence to begin the five-run outburst.
Sophomore Molly Troutman walked and moved to third on the first of two doubles by Spinney. Senior Makenzie Soma then laid down a squeeze bunt between Bradley junior pitcher Lexie Hilling and junior first baseman Heather Holly to score Troutman and place runners at the corners with no outs.
“We probably practice bunting as much as anyone in the state,” Gahanna coach Jim Campolo said. “We want to make sure everyone in our lineup can bunt, even our (Nos.) 3, 4 and 5 hitters.”
After Soma stole second, senior Kristen Zink had a two-run single for a 4-0 lead. Zink would later score the fifth run on a double steal with sophomore Alaina Marcum.
“It came down to one big inning,” said Bradley coach Kevin Moody, whose team finished 24-5. “We couldn't come up with that big hit the way we had over the past few weeks.”
Senior Jen Nashalsky and Holly both had RBI singles for the Jaguars, and senior Aimee Duckworth had two singles. Hilling struck out four, walked three and allowed 10 hits.
Gahanna senior Faith Bogard gave up six hits, struck out two, walked five and hit a batter. Senior Lauren Woodward had two singles.
“I still can’t believe that we did this,” Spinney said of winning a regional championship. “We finally got out of OSU, and I can’t wait to get to Akron. It’s what we have been talking about all year.Division II
Lakewood 15, Zanesville Maysville 1
The No. 1-ranked Lancers are headed to their third consecutive Division II state tournament.
With a 15-1 victory over Zanesville Maysville on May 27 in a regional final at Pickerington Central, defending state-champion Lakewood improved to 28-1 and advanced to play Jonathan Alder in a state semifinal June 2 at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
Tigan Braskie hit a two-run home run in the second and a solo homer in the third, Megan Davis had a two-run homer in the fifth and Kaylie Farmer had a solo homer in the sixth.
Pitcher Courtney Vierstra gave up four hits and added a second-inning solo homer.
Maysville finished 17-10.
—Jarrod UlreyDivision III
Springfield Northwestern 10, Ready 6
FAIRBORN — The Silver Knights fell short of reaching the Division III state tournament for the first time since 2013 with their loss in a regional final May 27 at Wright State.
After rallying to within 6-5 in the top of the sixth on a two-run double by Erica Ogden, Ready gave up four runs in the bottom of the inning, including a three-run home run by Northwestern’s Macie Crew.
The Knights scored once in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Dani Hall but left two runners on as their final rally attempt fell short. They finished 13-11.
“From the beginning of the game we were super disciplined, but we had to be disciplined because (Northwestern pitcher Jenna Robbins) moves the ball around a lot,” coach Jen Goff said.
Northwestern improved to 27-2 and will play in a state semifinal June 2 against Warren Champion.
With Northwestern holding a 3-0 lead, Ready got an RBI single by Nikki Hawkins, a sacrifice fly by Shelby Tracy and an RBI single by Kiley Gallagher in the fifth to tie it.
Northwestern scored three times in the bottom of the fifth to make it 6-3.