MINFORD, Ohio — A tough night at the office.
The Southern softball team committed three errors through four innings of play, which ultimately proved costly Thursday night following a 4-1 setback to Paint Valley in a Division IV district semifinal contest at Minford High School in Scioto County.
The second-seeded Lady Tornadoes (18-6) never led in the contest as the hosts mustered only three hits and three baserunners through seven frames. SHS also scored its only run of the night on the benefit of an error, which allowed the Purple and Gold to knot things up at one after one complete.
The third-seeded Lady Bearcats, however, took control of the game in the top of the third after four hits and an error led to two runs — giving the guests a 3-1 cushion. PVHS (19-8) tacked on an insurance run in the sixth to claim a three-run edge, then struck out three of the four batters faced in the seventh to secure a spot in the district final.
Paint Valley will face Waterford at 1 p.m. Saturday for a spot at regionals, with Eastern and Portsmouth Notre Dame fighting for the other D-4 regional berth at 11 p.m. Waterford defeated top-seeded Fairfield by a 4-3 count in the other district semifinal Thursday evening.
The Lady Bearcats outhit Southern by an 8-3 overall margin and committed only one error in the contest, compared to three by the hosts. The Lady Tornadoes left two runners on base while the PVHS stranded five on the bags.
Paint Valley started the scoring in the top of the first after Erin Riley led the game off with a single, then advanced to second on a sacrifice. Laci Stanforth reached safely on an infield error that also allowed Riley to score, giving the guests an early 1-0 cushion.
SHS countered in its half of the first when Caitlyn Holter delivered a one-out single, then advanced to second as a throwback attempt trickled away from the first baseman and into right field. Holter stole third and the throw ended up down the left field line, allowing her to score an tie the game at one.
Haven Nash and Riley delivered back-to-back singles to start the third, and a bad throw on Riley’s hit allowed the runners to move up to second and third with nobody out. Stanforth followed with a single that plated Nash with the eventual game-winning run, then Riley scored on a sac fly by Mikayla Newland to make it a 3-1 contest.
Newland led the sixth off with a double that was almost caught by a diving Hannah Hill in left field, then Newland later scored on a single by Nellie Rhoads for a 4-1 score through six complete.
Hill started the seventh with a single, but the next three SHS batters struck out — wrapping up the 4-1 decision.
Newland was the winning pitcher of record after allowing zero walks over seven innings while striking out 11. Jordan Huddleston suffered the setback after surrendering one walk over seven frames while fanning two.
Holter, Hill and Baylee Hupp each had a hit for the Lady Tornadoes, who reached last year’s regional semifinal round in D-4. It was also the final game for senior Hupp, Huddleston and Darien Diddle in the Purple and Gold.
Riley and Stanforth paced Paint Valley with two hits apiece, followed by Rhoads, Newland, Nash and Taylor Waugh with a safety apiece.