If Brooke Wells ever felt overlooked as the Olentangy High School softball team’s No. 9 hitter, she did not with a Division I regional semifinal on the line May 23 at Ohio State.
With a runner on third base and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning of a tie game, Gahanna coach Jim Campolo intentionally walked Emily Gernert and Olivia Gregory to load the bases and take his chances with Wells, a junior third baseman.
“I was a little down on myself being 0-for-3 at that point, but seeing the two walks in front of me, that kind of made me a little mad,” Wells said. “I just told myself I had to hit it and get it out of the infield (so) they can’t make a force-out.”
Wells did exactly that, blasting a long single to left-center field to score Kirsten Kracht, who had doubled to start the inning, as the Braves won 5-4 and moved within one win of their first state tournament appearance.
“We always say no one will play harder than us,” Olentangy coach Alan Tharp said. “Wells is a great third baseman (and) a great defensive player. She can do a little bit of everything.”
Olentangy improved to 19-11 and will play Teays Valley in the regional final May 26 at Ohio State.
Gahanna’s Addie Kittel blasted her 22nd home run of the season in the third inning to give the Lions the early lead. Olentangy tied the game at 1 in the fourth on an RBI single by Gernert, but Gahanna seemingly took command in the fifth with three runs on an RBI single by Caroline Heller and a two-run single by Ale Nye one batter later.
Olentangy got two runs back in the bottom of the fifth on a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly, and pulled into a 4-all tie in the sixth on Payton Cox’s RBI single to left.
Campolo rued a five-error day and a handful of missed chances.
“You can’t win many games playing defense that way,” said Campolo, whose team finished 20-9 and was making its sixth consecutive regional appearance. “In the first three innings, we left eight runners on. We had a chance to blow it open and we didn’t.”
Teays Valley 8, Westerville Central 4
Westerville Central saw its season come to an end against Teays Valley in a Division I regional semifinal May 23 at Ohio State.
The Warhawks, who entered the game on a 10-game winning streak, finished 18-10, while Teays Valley improved to 23-3 and will play Olentangy in the regional final May 26 at Ohio State.
Central fell behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning and could not recover. A two-run single by the Vikings’ Hailey Struckman highlighted the inning.
Avrey Schumacher’s RBI double in the bottom of the inning cut the Warhawks’ deficit to 3-1, but Teays Valley added three runs in the second inning and one in the third to extend its lead to 7-1 lead.
Central attempted a late comeback, scoring a run in the sixth and two in the seventh.
Kylie Collins had an RBI single in the sixth and Lily Linke had an RBI double in the seventh for the Warhawks.
Linke had two doubles in the game, while Schumacher had a double and a single.
“(Teays Valley is) a good hitting team,” said Central coach Brian Wamsley, who was named Division I district Coach of the Year. “The way they hit early, I thought we may need to make a change. Sydney (Stepp) was pitching well. Sometimes you have to tip your hat. Those kids from Teays Valley hit the ball well. They’re a solid team. They’re going to be a tough out. There’s not many teams left, but they’re looking pretty good.”