COLUMBUS — The Golden Eagles’ season of dreams ended in tearful disappointment.
Gahanna (26-2), after stranding 9 runners over the first 6 innings, scored 3 runs on 4 hits with two out in the top of the seventh to post a 3-0 Division Regional semifinal victory over Big Walnut (19-9) Thursday evening at Buckeye Field on the campus of The Ohio State University.
“Our girls left everything they had on the field,” Golden Eagle head coach Jeff Hatfield said of his squad which was making its first Regional appearance since 1988. “They played hard and competed very well against a very good Gahanna club … I am very proud of their effort, they have nothing to hang their heads about.”
The top of the seventh inning started innocently enough as the Lions’ Lauren Woodward singled to left. Becca Gavin followed with a line drive to deep center field with Woodward heading for third. Golden Eagle center fielder Katelynn Cheadle, with her back to the diamond, made an over-the-shoulder catch at the base of the fence with Gavin retreating to first, only to be called out because she failed to touch second base.
The Lions weren’t fazed in the least against Big Walnut starter Kate Petty.
Brittany Oldaker doubled off the center field fence and Shelby Lowe walked, setting the stage for pinch-hitter Victoria Nye’s double of the left field fence that plated both Rachel Murdock, pinch-running for Oldaker, and Lowe for a 2-0 Gahanna lead. Hannah Smith followed with a single t0 left-center that sent Nye home for the 3-0 advantage.
Smith led the Lions with 3 hits in 4 trips with a run batted in. Oldaker was 2-for-4 with a double and a run and Lowe was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run. Nye was 1-for-1 with a double, a run and 2 RBI.
Petty, who went the distance for Big Walnut, kept Lions scoreless through the first 6 innings, stranding 10 Gahanna runner while giving up eight hits while hitting a batter and issuing a base on balls. She struck out three.
“Kate, along with our defense, did a great job keeping us in the game for six innings,” Hatfield said. “We ran into a good Gahanna pitcher and we were never able to mount a rally.
Gahanna starter Alex Jander silenced the Big Walnut bats. shutting out the Golden Eagles on 4 hits. Brooke Hatfield was 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. Kate Petty and Shelbie Borchers also collected singles. Facing only 26 Golden Eagle batters, Jander issued only one walk while fanning one batter.