MINFORD, Ohio — All good things must come to an end.
The Eastern softball team had its magical season come to a close Saturday afternoon following a 5-0 setback to Portsmouth Notre Dame in a Division IV district championship game at Minford High School in Scioto County.
The top-seeded Lady Eagles (23-3) were not their typical selves as the hosts committed three errors in the contest, and the second-seeded Lady Titans (22-3) took full advantage of those extra opportunities.
Eastern committed one error in the third and two in the sixth, and the guests scored over half of their runs during those two frames at the plate. EHS also mustered only three baserunners past first base offensively, with one of those ultimately reaching third safely.
Overall, it was a tough day for the Lady Eagles — who had a nine-game postseason winning streak snapped, dating back to the district volleyball tournament. Still, after reaching the district final, posting 23 wins and winning a share of the TVC Hocking crown, Saturday’s outcome did not take away from any of those accomplishments.
Or, at least, first-year EHS softball coach Bryan Durst believed so.
“We just never seemed to get rolling today like we typically had. We had been hitting the ball well and playing good defense over the last few weeks, but we didn’t have our best stuff today,” Durst said. “When we did hit the ball hard, it was right at somebody and Notre Dame made the plays.
“I’m very proud of this team and what we’ve been able to do this year. I take my hat off to these seniors and what they have been able to accomplish over their careers. Those upperclassmen will be missed, but we also have a good part of this team coming back. We’ll just have to work a little harder to get back here again next spring.”
Eastern — which was aiming for its sixth district championship and first since 2003 — mustered five hits in the contest, with four of those coming in the fifth and sixth frames. Amber Moodispaugh had the first Lady Eagle hit with two outs in the second, but was ultimately left stranded at first.
After two scoreless innings, PNDHS finally struck first blood in the top of the third after an error and a double resulted in a 1-0 advantage. Hagen Shaefer reached on an infield error and later scored on a double by Katie Stevenson, giving the Lady Titans what would prove to be the eventual game-winning run.
Madi Phillips started the fourth with a triple and scored one batter later following a single by Brooke Pierron, making it a 2-0 contest. Tori Harr added a single that plated Pierron, giving the guests a 3-0 cushion through four complete.
The Lady Titans started the sixth with a hit by Phillips and Pierron reached on a walk, putting runners at first and second with nobody out. Elyana Born followed with a fly ball to right that was dropped by Jordan Parker, but Parker made up for her error by firing a strike to home plate to get Phillips out by 10 feet.
Harr followed with a single that allowed Pierron to score for a 4-0 contest, and Born later came around on a single by Juda Corns for a 5-0 lead after six complete. EHS went down in order in the seventh, allowing Notre Dame to move on to the round of 16.
The Lady Titans outhit Eastern by a 9-5 overall margin and committed one error in the contest, compared to three by the hosts. The Lady Eagles left six on base while the guests stranded seven on the bags.
Harr was the winning pitcher of record after allowing one walk over seven innings while striking out four. Grace Edwards suffered the setback after surrendering three walks over seven frames while fanning five.
Moodispaugh, Edwards, Paige Cline, Katlyn Barber and Hannah Hawley each had a hit for EHS. Jourdan Griffin received a walk in the third and Cline also reached on an error in the third.
Phillips paced Notre Dame with three hits, followed by Stevenson and Harr with two safeties apiece. Pierron and Corns also had a hit each for the victors.
It was the final game for seniors Erin Swatzel, Jordan Parker, Hannah Hawley, Paige Cline, Shaye Selbee and Amber Moodispaugh in the Green and Gold.