ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — Cruising to start the postseason.
The Meigs softball scored five runs in each of the first two innings in the Division III sectional semifinal on Tuesday in Meigs County, as the eighth-seeded Lady Marauders rolled past ninth-seeded South Point by a 12-4 tally.
The Lady Marauders (13-15) — winner of four straight — trailed 1-0 after an error in the top of the first inning, but tied the game with a one-out bases loaded walk in the bottom of the frame. Still with one gone, Meigs took the lead on an RBI single by Alyssa Smith. Following the second out of the frame, Mara Hall blasted a three-run double to give the Maroon and Gold a 5-1 edge.
Taylor Swartz led off the bottom of the second inning with a triple and then scored on a two-out error, giving the hosts a 6-1 edge. Next, Katie Hawkins hit a three-run double and then scored on a double by Hall, increasing the Lady Marauder lead to 10-1.
The MHS lead grew to double digits in the bottom of the third, as Swartz singled, stole two bases and then scored on an error.
After being retired in order in the second and third frames, South Point got a run back in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Swartz led off the bottom of the fifth with a double — her 150th career hit — and then scored on a Ciera Older single, making the MHS lead 12-3. The guests tacked on one run in the top of the seventh, but ultimately fell by a 12-4 tally.
Following the victory, fifth-year MHS head coach Bryan Swann talked about what led his team, as well as what he expects when the Lady Marauders visit top-seeded Wheelersburg — the No. 4 team in the OHSFSCA Division III poll — in Friday’s sectional final.
“We came out with a mission,” Swann said. “We had a little talk back when the tournament draw came out, we talked about how hard our schedule had been. Not only was out schedule hard, but we basically got 27 games in and had a week to go in the schedule, the only thing we had left was a pair of make up games. We had stacked a bunch of games back-to-back against powerful teams, we really don’t have enough pitching for that and it shows by our record, but these kids have been through a lot.
“They believe they can do anything, and I look for us to go down to Wheelersburg and give them something. I look for us to go down there and have a good showing, that’s what we’re hoping for. I think these kids are ready, based on their schedule. I’ll tell you this, we’d rather see a Wheelersburg team early in the tournament than late in the tournament.”
Breanna Zirkle was the winning pitcher of record in two innings for Meigs, allowing an unearned run and one hit. Hailey Roberts finished the game for the Maroon and Gold, striking out three and walking one, while giving up three runs, two earned, on seven hits.
Emily Byrd took the loss for the Lady Pointers, surrendering 12 runs, seven earned, on 18 hits and two walks, while striking out two.
Swartz — who now has 151 career hits — led the Lady Marauder offense, going 5-for-5 with a triple, a double and three runs scored. The MHS senior center fielder discussed the career milestone and noted those who have helped reach it.
“It feels like it’s still settling in, I’ve very happy about it though,” Swartz said. “I couldn’t have done it without the help of my teammates pushing me all the time, the help of the coaches as well, and the support of my family for sure.”
Coach Swann commended his leadoff hitter for the accomplishment and talked about what it took to get there.
“She came in as a freshman out in center field and she’s been near the top hitting-wise, either 1-2-or-3, throughout her whole career, even with all those hitters we’ve had in the past,” Swann said. “Tonight is just a result and an accumulation of those four years, which was a phenomenal career.”
Jerrica Smith went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and one run batted in for the hosts, Alyssa Smith was 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI, while Older was 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Hall doubled twice and drove in a game-best four runs, while Hawkins doubled once, scored once and picked up three RBIs. Bailey Swatzel contributed a single and two runs to the winning cause, while Hannah Durst added a run.
Leading the Lady Pointers, Jill Alysworth was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, while Holly Ramey and Megan Epperly were both 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Sara Allen singled once and scored once, Kylee Ellison added a single, while Taylor Estep scored twice in the setback.
Both teams committed a trio of errors in the contest, with Meigs leaving eight runners on base and South Point stranding seven.
The Lady Marauders’ sectional final bout at Wheelersburg is set for 5 p.m. on Friday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.