A fast start propelled Cardington’s softball team past Galion by a 9-2 count in Division III regional semifinal action on Wednesday.
In the game, which was hosted by Findlay High School, the Pirates tallied three runs in the first inning and tacked on three more in the second to take a lead they would not relinquish in advancing to their second straight regional final. After Casey
Bertke got through the top of the first inning, only giving up one single, Cardington’s offense didn’t waste any time in handing the sophomore pitcher a lead. Brooklyn Whitt opened the bottom of the inning with a single and advanced all the way to third base on a Galion error. Kierson George drew a walk to put runners on the corners and then Baylee Adams smashed a three-run home run to give her team the lead.
“Our top three hitters are dynamic players,” said head coach Tod Brininger. “Brooklyn Whitt is going to Kent State and is an all-state kid, Kierson George is going to Purdue and should be an all-state kid and Baylee Adams is an all-state kid. They can lead off an inning or a game for us.”
Timely hitting and a couple Tiger miscues allowed Cardington to double their lead in the second frame. With two outs, George cracked a triple. Adams then hit a ground ball that was misfielded by Galion to bring her in and make the score 4-0. Another error put Chelsey Miller on base and Rylie Partlow followed with a two-run double to give Cardington a six-run lead. “
We jumped out early and had some big hits,” said Brininger. “With Casey in the circle, we can play with a lead. She’s the most laid-back girl. She knows the defense has her back.”
After Bertke was able to get out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the fourth, she was able to help herself out by providing two more runs in the bottom of that inning. With one out, Partlow drew a walk and Paige Clinger followed with a single. Bertke then stepped up to the plate and delivered a double that scored both runners.
Trailing 8-0 going into the fifth inning, Galion was able to show some life, leading off the inning with singles by Katie Schieber and Nevaeh Clark. A groundout by Emily Sedmak scored Schieber. Gracie Groves then hit another ground ball and Clark was able to score on an errant throw by the Pirates.
However, Bertke was able to retire the next two batters to end that threat. She then would pitch perfect innings in both the sixth and seventh to preserve the win. Cardington tallied an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, as Ally Moore singled with two outs and Whitt drove her in with a run-scoring double.
“What I tell the girls is that we make our own luck,” said Brininger. “We’ve been doing it all year. We didn’t even hit that well tonight and scored nine runs.”
The Pirates finished with 13 hits in the game, with Adams hitting a home run and four girls having multi-hit games. Whitt had a double and two singles, George had a triple and single and both Partlow and Bertke had a double and single. On the mound, Bertke struck out five, walked one and gave up seven hits.
Next up for Cardington is a familiar opponent. On Saturday in a game scheduled for noon at Findlay, the team will challenge Pemberville Eastwood in the regional finals. Last year, they took on the Eagles in that same game and won by a 4-0 count to advance to the state semifinals.
“They have a great pitcher,” said Brininger. “It’s a rematch from last year.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS