OTWAY, Ohio — A pitcher’s duel to the very end.
Through eight innings Gallia Academy and Fairfield Union combined for just seven hits and three runs, as the Lady Falcons took the 2-1 victory and the Division Two District title Friday night in Scioto County.
After a scoreless first inning the Blue Angels’ (19-8) Mattie Lanham came around to score after being hit by a pitch. Fairfield Union broke through for the game’s first hit in the top of the fourth inning but failed to make anything happen on the scoreboard.
Gallia Academy’s first hit came in the top of the fifth off the bat of Kendra Barnes, but GAHS could not expand on its one run lead. FUHS put a couple of hits together in the top of the sixth to tie the game up at one. Neither team had the luxury of a base runner in the seventh and the game was forced into extra innings.
With two outs in the eighth Fairfield Union sophomore Kylie Cisco took the first pitch she saw over the left-center field fence to earn her third hit of the game and give FUHS the 2-1 lead. Brittany Lloyd opened the home half of the eighth with a single but was thrown out at second on the choice. Gallia Academy couldn’t answer and fell to FUHS 2-1.
“I thought both teams played really well,” said GAHS head coach Jim Niday. “The pitching was outstanding.”
Heather Ward was credited with the loss after giving up just two runs on five hits and a walk. Ward struck out five batters in eight innings of work. Ward sat down FUHS in order in four innings including the first three.
Hope Bondurant earned the victory after giving up just one unearned run on two hits and two walks. Bondurant struck out six batters in eight innings of work.
Barnes and Lloyd had the lone hits for the Blue Angels, while Lanham scored the only run. Barnes and Megan Cochran each drew a walk in the game, while Lanham was hit by a pitch.
Cisco led the Lady Falcons with three hits including the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning.
“Just a great game,” Niday said post game. “Unfortunately one team had to lose and one team is over there celebrating now, and we’re the ones that had to lose.”
Gallia Academy is losing a successful group of seniors that have won three Southeastern Ohio Athletic League championships and one district title. GAHS has won a combined 82 games over the past four seasons. The departing seniors are: two-time SEOAL Player of the Year pitcher Heather Ward, two-time All-league selection catcher Mattie Lanham, All-league infielder Rachel Morris, All-SEOAL honorable mention outfielder Kanessa Snyder, and second baseman Brittany Lloyd.
“We’re not an easy team to beat,” Niday said, “They were good enough to do it tonight, so congratulations to them.”