CENTENARY, Ohio — Logan’s Lainie Nakanishi gave herself a birthday present on Friday by spoiling the Blue Angels’ afternoon.
That’s because Nakanishi, the Logan Lady Chiefs’ softball pitcher, stymied host Gallia Academy to only an unearned run — as the Lady Chiefs defeated the Blue Angels 6-1 in a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League tilt.
Nakanishi limited the Blue Angels to only five hits, including only two through five innings — as Gallia Academy did not gain ground in the sixth when twice had the bases loaded.
As a result, GAHS fell to 4-3 — and 0-2 in the final season of the SEOAL after already losing at Warren 3-2.
Logan is now 1-1 in the league, evening that record after losing to Jackson 7-4.
The Lady Chiefs are now just 2-7, but captured an impressive bounce-back victory on Friday.
“We had kind of a heartbreaker against Jackson, and I think this league is really, really close. We’re really excited to come here and get a win because we always feel like Gallia Academy is so fundamentally sound and they play well here,” said veteran Logan coach Jim Huntsberger. “To kind of steal a win here at Gallia Academy is not an easy thing to do, so we’re happy to do it.”
The Lady Chiefs charged out of the gate with three runs on three hits in the first inning, then added two more on three hits in the second — before a single point in the fourth.
With Nakanishi in control, the Blue Angels’ only serious scoring threats were in the fourth and sixth — and they needed all three of Logan’s errors to take advantage.
With Logan leading 6-0, Nakanishi pitched her way out of the fourth-inning jam, as Gallia Academy’s Makenzie Barr and Kimberly Edelmann reached on infield errors — but Blue Angel baserunners were left stranded at second and third.
In the sixth, Paxton Roberts reached on a leadoff error, then Jenna Meadows and Barr both singled to left — with Roberts scoring on Barr’s basehit.
Cassidy Starnes singled to right sandwiched around a pair of fielder’s choices — in which both instances the Logan infielder went home for the forceout to cut down the Blue Angel runner down.
Gallia Academy twice had the bases loaded in the sixth, but Nakanishi got Shelby Long to fly out to end the inning.
Otherwise, Nakanishi — who struck out three — retired the Blue Angels 1-2-3 in the second, fifth and seventh stanzas, and faced only four Angels apiece in the first and third.
Meadows singled in the first and pitching counterpart Hunter Copley singled in the third for the only other Blue Angel hits.
“She (Nakanishi) is a senior who has been waiting her turn behind a four-year starter (graduated Faith Freeman),” said Huntsberger. “The wind blowing helps her a lot, because her ball moves a little bit better. That’s the best game she has pitched in at least a year and we’re really proud of her. And it’s her 18th birthday today too, so everything went really well.”
Maybe so for the Lady Chiefs, but definitely not for the Blue Angels.
Gallia Academy coach Scott Stanley said his squad “came out flat tonight.”
“We had a two-hour early dismissal from school today (Friday) and that put us behind in our normal routine,” he said. “We just came out flat. I think our contact percentage (at the plate) was pretty high, but we weren’t making solid contact. We hit balls right at them or just easy grounders.”
Copley allowed six runs on 11 hits, including a baseknock in every inning while walking none and striking out three.
With one out in the opening inning, Addy Rooker and Payton Frasure had back-to-back singles — before an unsuccessful fielder’s choice off the bat of Grayce Huntsberger loaded the bases.
Rooker scored on a 6-4 fielder’s choice off the bat of Paige Simons, as Nakanishi helped her cause by doubling to center to plate Frasure and Simons with two outs.
In the third, Huntsberger and Simons both singled before Nakanishi reached on another unsuccessful fielder’s choice.
Again with two outs, Hannah Schrader singled to center to score Simon and Shawnshea McClelland — the courtesy runner for Nakanishi.
In the fourth, Rooker tripled with one out, and scored on Frasure’s sacrifice fly.
Alexia McBride with singles in the second and sixth, Savannah Seymour with a single in the fifth, and finally Frasure with a double in the seventh rounded out the Lady Chiefs’ hits.
“Sometimes we maybe over-think things in the batter’s box. But tonight, we settled down and hit the ball well. Sometimes if you’re not thinking as much, you’re playing a little bit better,” said Huntsberger. “She (Copley) is a nice pitcher, has a great change-up and hits her spots, but we were fortunate to put some balls in play and make some things happen.”
In addition to the outcome, the third baseman Edelmann sprained an ankle at the end of the fifth inning while catching a pop-up in foul territory.
She left the game and did not return.
The Blue Angels return to action on Monday at Chesapeake for an Ohio Valley Conference clash.
Gallia Academy is 2-1 in the OVC, as Saturday’s (April 9) league home contest against Coal Grove was postponed.
In the other SEOAL bout on Friday, Warren won at Jackson 7-2, which gives Warren (2-0 SEOAL) a full game lead over Logan (1-1 SEOAL) and Jackson (1-1 SEOAL).
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106