One big inning paved the way for Cardington to move onto the district finals in softball on Tuesday, as they defeated Amanda-Clearcreek by a 5-1 count..
Trailing 1-0 going into the fourth inning, the Pirates found themselves in big trouble in the top of that inning. Playing at Olentangy High School, Cardington committed a pair of defensive miscues to put runners on second and third base and Casey Bertke then walked Emily Ruck to load the bases with no one out.
The Pirates were able to escape from that jam unscathed, though. A ground ball by Makinzie Garee led to an out at home base. Bertke then induced a weak pop out and a groundout to keep the game at a one-run margin.
“It was huge,” Pirate coach Tod Brininger said of not giving up any runs in the fourth. “We constantly preach about overcoming adversity. You’re going to have bad plays and errors and issues. The key is not getting multiple issues.”
Cardington then exploded offensively in the fourth inning. After loading the bases in both the first and third frames, but having nothing to show for it, they finally were able to get to Ruck in a big way. Bayley Adams walked to open the inning. After Ruck recorded an out, Allie Moore smashed the ball down the right field line, just past a diving outfielder, resulting in an inside-the-park home run that gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
“I think that was really big for us — I think that got us started,” said Moore.
After that, Cardington got a single by Brooklyn Whitt and Dakota Crum was walked to put two on. Alyson Adams then followed with a bases-clearing triple to left field to make it 4-1. A sacrifice fly on a deep ball by Makenna McClure added a fifth run to the Pirate tally.
“They made some nice plays in the outfield,” said Brininger of Amanda-Clearcreek. “We were fortunate to have a couple hard-hit balls. We kept plugging and plugging. That pitcher (Ruck) is a stud. She’s one of the better ones we’ve seen all year. Our normal great hitters didn’t have great games, but the others stepped up.”
Bertke then took Cardington’s momentum and sailed through the next two innings, only taking three pitches to get three outs in the fifth inning and then cruising through the sixth on seven pitches.
She would run into a bit of trouble in the seventh. Brook Bolin, who’d put A-C on the scoreboard in the top of the third inning with a solo home run, hit her second deep ball with one out in the inning to make the score 5-2. Bertke then walked Haley Hedrick, but recovered to get two straight ground ball outs to record the complete-game victory.
Next up for Cardington will be Johnstown, whom the Pirates will face Saturday at 1 p.m. at Pickerington Central.
“Johnstown’s a tough team,” said Brininger. They have good pitching and are an excellent team that made the Final Four last year. We’re mirror images.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS