Softball: Pickerington Central upends Mount Vernon in Division I regional semifinal

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Central’s Sara Tailford celebrates after scoring a run in a 6-2 win over Mount Vernon in a Division I regional semifinal May 26 at Olentangy Orange. The Tigers advanced to play Watkins Memorial in the regional final May 29.

Pickerington Central’s postseason run through this season’s giants of central Ohio softball continued May 26, and next on the Tigers’ docket is the biggest test yet — at least on paper — with the biggest prize to date at stake.

A two-run fourth inning and a three-run sixth, helped by four Mount Vernon errors and complemented by a strong finish from pitcher Kenzie O’Neil, powered Central to a 6-2 win over the sixth-ranked Yellow Jackets in a Division I regional semifinal at Olentangy Orange.

Colleen Bare and Sara Tailford each had two hits and an RBI as the Tigers advanced into a regional final against second-ranked Watkins Memorial on May 29 at Olentangy Berlin.

The pitching of Kenzie O’Neil helped Pickerington Central defeat Mount Vernon 6-2 in a Division I regional semifinal May 26 at Olentangy Orange.

“We all knew (the offense) was going to come eventually. We had to jump on the chances we got,” Tailford said. “We never really expected this. If you asked us after our first game if we could do that, we didn’t really know. Now, we’re the underdogs and we’re proving everyone wrong.”

Central, which is making its first regional appearance since 2013 and began the season March 27 with a 14-4 loss at Mount Vernon, capitalized on a walk and two errors to take a 1-0 lead in the second. The Yellow Jackets went ahead on Layne Cook’s two-run single in the third, but the Tigers used a patient approach to answer an inning later.

Ellie Tressler and Kyndal Mangahas started the inning with consecutive walks, Tressler scored on Colleen Moore’s RBI single and Tailford brought Mangahas in with a two-out RBI single.

Bare’s RBI double in the sixth made it 4-2, and two Mount Vernon errors plated two more Central runs as the Tigers improved to 20-7.

O’Neil retired 11 of the last 12 batters, scattering five hits while striking out one and walking three.

Central will seek its first state tournament appearance in 2007 and sixth overall.

Mount Vernon finished 23-4.

“We’ve counted on about three or four girls to be consistent the entire year but now everyone is stepping up,” Tigers coach Stephanie Peterson said. “Pitching-wise, we wanted to keep the ball in the park and get some big hits ourselves. If we did that, we had a chance.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave