ATHENS, Ohio — The Blue Angels made their signature comeback … albeit a bit too soon.
The Gallia Academy softball team erased a 2-0 deficit with three runs in the top half of the third, but host Athens ultimately answered with a dozen unanswered runs en route to a 14-3 mercy-rule victory in a Division II district semifinal matchup at the Ohio University softball field in Athens County.
The Blue Angels (13-8) — who won road contests at Warren and at Unioto for their first sectional title since 2018 — again trailed through two frames as the Lady Bulldogs (18-7) built a 2-0 edge after Ashleigh James doubled home Olivia Kaiser and then later scored on an error.
GAHS, however, answered with a little 2-out lightning in the third as Jenna Harrison, Abby Hammons and Grace Truance delivered consecutive singles, allowing Harrison to score for a 2-1 contest.
Taylor Mathie followed with a double to center that plated both Hammons and Truance, allowing Gallia Academy to build a 3-2 lead midway through the third.
The Blue Angels didn’t have another hit and mustered only one baserunner — a dropped third strike advancement in the fourth — the rest of the way.
Kateyanne Walburn doubled home Kendra Hammons in the home half of the third, tying the game at 3-all. Bailee Toadvine and Kayla Hammonds followed with back-to-back 2-out doubles in the fourth, allowing Toadvine to score the eventual game-winning run for a 4-3 edge.
Kayla Hammonds later came around to score on an error that made it a 5-3 contest through four complete.
Gallia Academy committed four errors in the home half of the fifth, allowing AHS to send 11 batters to the plate during a painful end to regulation.
The Lady Bulldogs managed only three hits during a 9-run outburst, but the final blow came from Kaiser as she blasted a 2-out, 2-run walkoff homer over the left field wall — completing the 5-inning contest.
Athens outhit the guests by a 10-5 overall margin and committed none of the six errors in the game. AHS also stranded five of the eight runners left on base.
The Lady Bulldogs — winners of eight straight decisions — advance to face Sheridan in the D-2 district final on Wednesday at Ohio University.
Harrison led GAHS with two hits, followed by Hammons, Truance and Mathie with a safety apiece.
Toadvine, Walburn and Kendra Hammonds paced Athens with two hits each.
Mathie took the loss after surrendering eight runs (five earned), six hits and four walks over three innings while striking out two.
James picked up the win after allowing three earned runs and five hits over five frames while fanning four.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.