TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — There’s no such thing as a sure win.
The top-seeded Eastern softball team had won eight straight Division IV sectional titles and the Lady Eagles swept eighth-seeded Trimble by counts of 28-2 and 12-8 in the regular season.
Unfortunately for the hosts, none of that mattered on Thursday evening at Don Jackson Field in Meigs County, as the visiting Lady Tomcats claimed a 6-4 victory and the spot in the district tournament.
Trimble (8-14) — which lost its first 12 games of the season, but has won eight of its last 10 — broke the scoreless tie in the top of the second inning, when Kym Williams blasted a solo home run.
Eastern (17-5) — which entered play with a three-game winning streak —tied the game at one with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Courtney Fitzgerald singled home Katlyn Barber. Later in the frame, EHS took a 2-1 lead, as Abbie Hawley single home Kelsey Casto.
The Lady Eagle lead was short-lived, however, as Rhiannon Brown drew a bases loaded walk with one out in the top of the fifth, bringing Alyssa Turley around to score and tie the game at two.
Trimble took the lead on the very next at-bat, as Skylar Moore hit a three-run triple. Moore then came around to score on a throwing error, giving the guests a 6-2 advantage.
With one out in the top of the fifth, the Lady Eagles got two runs back, as Katlyn Barber launched a two-run home run.
Eastern brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning, but THS escaped unscathed.
After back-to-back flyouts to start the bottom of the seventh, Emmalea Durst doubled off of the right field fence, to keep hope alive. However, after Durst moved to third on a passed ball, a line drive straight to the THS centerfielder gave the Lady Tomcats a 6-4 win.
“I told the kids coming in ‘this team will be out to spoil our season’,” said fourth-year Eastern head coach Bryan Durst. “They won 17 games last year and just lost one player from last year’s team. They definitely worked hard all week long and they believed in themselves. They were probably the only ones who thought they were going to win this game and they pulled it off. I give credit to them and their coaching staff.”
Brianna Lunsford earned the pitching victory in a complete game for the Lady Tomcats, allowing four runs on 12 hits and two walks.
Elaina Hensley suffered the loss in 4.2 innings of work for EHS, allowing six runs, five earned, on three hits and 11 walks. Sophia Carleton pitched 2.1 innings of scoreless, hitless innings from the fifth frame into the seventh. Hensley — who pitched the first four innings and then came back in for the last .2 — struck out four batters, while Carleton struck out one.
A quartet of Lady Eagles were 2-for-4 at the plate, led by Katlyn Barber with a home run, a single, two runs scored and two runs batted in. Durst singled once and doubled once in the setback, Abbie Hawley singled twice and drove in one run, while Taylynn Rockhold contributed two singles.
Casto and Cera Grueser both singled once and scored once, Fitzgerald added a single and an RBI, while Hannah Bailey chipped in with a single.
For Trimble, Williams was 1-for-2 with a home run, two runs scored and one RBI, Moore was 1-for-2 with a triple, one run scored and three RBIs, while Kaitlyn Spears went 1-for-4 in with a double.
The Trimble defense, which recorded 12 groundouts in the victory, didn’t commit an error. Meanwhile, Eastern committed two errors. The Lady Eagles left six runners on base, while THS stranded nine baserunners.
This marks the final game in the high school careers of EHS seniors Katlyn Barber, Taylynn Rockhold, Hannah Sharp, Abbie Hawley and Hannah Bailey.
“It’s real tough with those seniors, I’ve enjoyed my time with all of them,” Coach Durst said of losing quintet to graduation. “You look at Katlyn Barber, I’ve been around her a long time and she’s a very good softball player. Taylynn Rockhold is as good of a left handed hitter as I’ve had. Hannah Sharp, who didn’t always get to play the whole time, gave everything all the time, and I could tell it hurt her a lot to lose that game tonight. You look at Abbie Hawley, who had a great senior season. Hannah Bailey is a scrapper, she’s gave us everything she’s had for four years and we’re really going to miss her.”
In the past four seasons, Eastern has amassed a 79-18 record, to go with a trio of both league and sectional championships.
For the third straight season, the Lady Tomcats will move on to the district tournament, at Minford High School. THS will face fourth-seeded Peebles, which claimed a 3-2 win over Portsmouth Notre Dame in Thursday’s sectional final in Adams County.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.