For the second time in two playoff games, the Cardington softball team was able to record a shutout, as they topped Amanda-Clearcreek by a 5-0 count on Tuesday in a Division III district semifinal contest hosted by Olentangy High School.
After neither team scored in the first two innings, the Lady Pirates got on the board with a two-run home run by Baylee Adams and then added runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to gradually pull away from their opponents.
“It’s survive and advance,” said head coach Tod Brininger. “Amanda’s a good team. We hadn’t seen them yet.”
Before getting on the board, Cardington threatened to score, but was stopped short of home plate in both of the first two frames. Dana Bertke and Adams had back-to-back one-out singles in the first inning and were moved to second and third base on a grounder from Chelsey Miller, but were both stranded. In the second inning, Hailee Edgell smashed a one-out triple. However, a ground ball by Reanna Roth turned into a double play when Edgell was called out trying to reach home.
The team would not be denied in the third inning. With one out, Kierson George connected for a triple. Adams would then come to the plate with two outs and send the ball out of the park to stake Cardington to a 2-0 lead.
The Pirates would add one run to their advantage in each of the next three innings. In the fourth, Casey Bertke opened with a double, taking third on a fielding error by the Aces. Paige Clinger then drove in the courtesy runner with a sacrifice fly.
Leading 3-0 in the fifth inning, the Pirates got a leadoff singe from Dana Bertke and Adams drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Miller grounded out, but Bertke was able to cross home plate for the team’s fourth run. The team scored for the final time in the sixth inning when Dana Bertke brought in Taiylor Hubley with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0.
While the team finished with 11 hits, including a home run and single by Adams, triple and double from George, a triple from Edgell, a double and single from Casey Bertke and two singles from Dana Bertke, the pitching of Casey Bertke ensured that any amount of offense would be enough for the team to advance.
While the junior had to work out of jams in the first and third innings, she went on to only give up one baserunner after the third frame and finished with nine strikeouts, while only giving up five singles.
“Casey pitched a whale of a game,” said Brininger. “She was on today and our defense played pretty well.”
Next up for Cardington will be Utica in Saturday’s district finals at Pickerington Central. The Redskins are a familiar foe for the Pirates, as they met in last year’s district finals. The Pirates jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but watched Utica score six times over the sixth and seventh innings before rallying for the game-running win in the eighth. Brininger was of the opinion the Redskins picked Cardington’s half of the bracket due to believing they should have won that game.
“I think they thought last year was a fluke,” he said. “The girls are excited to play them. We’ve had this one circled on the calendar.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS