Another trip to Olentangy High School led to another Cardington softball win in the Division III district semifinals — this time by a 9-3 margin over Amanda Clearcreek Tuesday night.
Due to the 2020 season being canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic and higher-seeded teams hosting all the way through the district finals, it had been three years since the Pirates had played there for a chance to advance to the district finals.
“We love Olentangy,” said head coach Tod Brininger. “We’ve had a lot of success here. We were able to pick the time we play and we like the 7 p.m. game.”
After falling in a 1-0 hole in the first inning, the Pirates settled down and scored six straight between the second and fifth frames. Freshman Ari Simpson got the team started offensively in the second inning. After a pop fly by Genevieve Longsdorf was dropped, Simpson came to the plate and deposited an Ace pitch over the outfield wall to give her team a 2-1 advantage.
In the third inning, Hailee Edgell drove in Mikayla Linkous with a single after Linkous drew a leadoff walk and then stole second. Leading 3-1, the team added a pair of runs in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Emalee Artz and a single by Dana Bertke. Then, in the fifth, Longsdorf tallied a solo shot to make it 6-1.
Brininger was happy with that sort of consistent scoring, even if he thought the team left too many runners on base on the night.
“The big thing is that Amanda is a good team,” he said. “We don’t want them to hang around. We have to get on top. If we let them hang around, anything can happen. We’ve had some big innings this year, but that’s what we’ve done and done a lot with two outs. I’d rather have six innings where we score one or two than one with eight.”
After giving up a run in the top of the sixth, the Pirates essentially iced the game with three in their half of the inning. After a one-out triple by Edgell, she scored on a wild pitch. Riley Burchett drew a walk and a double by Abby Hardwick put runners on second and third.
Simpson would then strike again with two outs, smacking a single to drive in her third and fourth runs of the game and give the Pirates a 9-2 run. While the Aces would score once in the seventh, the Pirates were able to advance comfortably.
Six of the team’s runs were driven in by the six through nine hitters — something that pleased Brininger, who feels his team can hit up and down the line-up.
“I’m real pleased with that,” he said. “We’ve been up and down all year with our hitters. It’s nice when you don’t have to depend on one or two hitters.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS