ALBANY, Ohio — The Lady Marauders’ kryptonite appears to be red.
The Meigs softball had its season come to an end on Friday in Athens County, as the seventh-seeded Lady Marauders fell to second-seeded Alexander for the third time this spring, dropping the Division III sectional championship game by a 5-0 count.
Meigs (12-8) had the game’s first opportunity to score, but stranded a runner on third in the top of the opening inning. Alexander (20-3) — which has now won 11 consecutive games — also stranded a runner in scoring position in the opening frame, but retired the Lady Marauders in order in the top of the second.
AHS left two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the second, and Meigs followed by stranding runners on first and second in the top of the third.
Alexander broke the scoreless tie in the home half of the third, as Casto made it home following back-to-back errors. Four more more Lady Spartans scored in the inning, as the hosts broke the game wide open.
AHS put runners on third base in the fifth and sixth innings, but never added to their 5-run total.
The Lady Marauders didn’t reach scoring position again until the top of the sixth inning, but stranded a runner on third for the second time in the game.
MHS put a pair of runners on base in the seventh, but the Lady Spartans got the strikeout they needed to seal the 5-0 win and the spot in the district semifinal.
“I’m proud of them, because they’ve been in some other games and quit, and tonight they fought and kept playing,” Lady Marauders head coach Bryan Swann said. “We made some adjustments and started hitting the ball in the middle innings a little bit, we just hit it right at them.”
Gracie Hill was the winning pitcher of record with a complete game shut out for AHS, striking out three batters and allowing nine hits.
Breanna Zirkle struck out two batters and suffered the loss in a complete game for Meigs, allowing five runs, two earned, on nine hits, a walk and a hit batter.
“Both pitchers are a lot alike,” Swann said. “Neither one of them are strikeout pitchers, they’re junk ball pitchers. I think Alexander’s batters were a little more patient and maybe adjusted a little better.”
Taylor Swartz led the MHS offense, going 3-for-3 with a double. Karington Brinker and Alyssa Smith both singled twice in the setback, while Peyton Rowe and Chonslyn Spaun, both singled once.
Leading Alexander’s offense, Casto was 3-for-4 with a run, while Jadyn Mace was 2-for-3 with a run.
The Lady Marauders committed seven errors and left six runners on base, while Alexander had zero errors and eight runners left on base.
“If you get rid of 2-or-3 errors we had, this is a 1-or-2 run game and it’s anybody’s ball game,” said Swann. “I’m just proud of how they fought, more than anything else.”
This marks the final game in the Maroon and Gold for Meigs’ two seniors, Peyton Rowe and Rachel Kesterson.
“I’m gonna miss our two seniors,” Swann said. “We’re young, and Alexander’s young, so I see a lot of battles in the future.”
In the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division play this spring, league champion Alexander defeated Meigs by a 9-1 tally on April 20 in Rocksprings, and then by a 6-1 count on April 26 in Albany.
On Thursday evening, the Lady Marauders wrapped up their regular season with a 6-4 setback at Vinton County. The Lady Vikings led 2-0 after plating a run in each of the first two innings, but MHS tied it in the top of the third on a Jerrica Smith two-run single.
However, the hosts scored four times in the bottom of the frame and led 6-2. MHS got one run back as Brinker led off the fourth with a home run, but Meigs was held scoreless for the next two frames. Jerrica Smith drove in Bre Lilly in the top of the seventh, but the Lady Marauders left the bases loaded and fell by a 6-4 tally.
Zirkle took the loss in six innings of work, surrendering six runs on seven hits, while striking out one. Reffitt claimed the win in a complete game for VCHS, striking out three, while surrendering four runs on nine hits and three walks.
Jerrica Smith led the MHS offense on Thursday, going 2-for-4 with three runs batted in. Shalynn Mitchell singled twice, Brinker hit a home run, scored once and earned an RBI, while Rowe and Hannah Tackett both doubled once, with Rowe scoring once. Zirkle and Swartz both singled once in the loss, while Lilly scored twice as courtesy runner.
Radabaugh, Reffitt and Hembree each singled twice and scored once for the Lady Vikings.
Meigs committed two errors and stranded 10 runners, while VCHS had three errors and left five runners on base.
The season series between Meigs and Vinton County will remain split, as MHS defeated the Lady Vikings by a 5-4 clip on April 6 in Meigs County.
With the exception of Alexander, Vinton County is the first TVC Ohio team to defeat Meigs since Wellston swept the Maroon and Gold in 2014.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.