A record-setting year for the Cardington softball team came to an end in Bellefontaine on Thursday, as Milan Edison got out to a fast start and never trailed in topping the Pirates 4-0 in the Division III regional finals.
Leading off the top of the first, the Chargers immediately struck for three runs despite not getting a single ball out of the infield. Lauren Wolf led off by drawing a walk and Hailey Stoll followed with an infield hit.
After Pirate pitcher Savannah Chalfant induced an out, she then walked Jessica Stoll to load the bases. While pitching to Peyton Michel, whom she would strike out, one of her pitches got past the catcher to bring in a run.
With two outs, another run came in after another pitch found the backstop and then Mariah Medina brought in another score on a bunt single to make the score 3-0.
“I think nerves got to us in the first inning,” said Cardington coach Tod Brininger after his team finished the year with a program-best 25-2 record and a ranking of third in the state in Division III. “We just couldn’t get going.”
Offensively, the Pirates never could generate a threat off Edison pitcher Erica Reber, who only surrendered four hits and a walk on the evening. In the bottom of the first, Dakota Crum tallied a single and Brooklyn Whitt drew a two-out walk, but Reber was able to get out of the inning with a strikeout.
The second inning saw Makenna McClure reach on an infield single, but Reber struck out the other three batters she faced in that frame to prevent the Pirates from cutting into their deficit.
“She kept us off-balance — I’m not even sure what she was throwing,” said Brininger. “We couldn’t get runners on base with less than two outs. We didn’t hit the ball like we did all year.”
Other than that first inning, Chalfant also was dominating on the mound, striking out 11 and only surrendering one run in the seventh inning on a single by Stoll. However, the Cardington offense couldn’t break through.
In the bottom of the fourth, they had their best change, as Rylie Partlow smashed a one-out double. A ground ball by Chalfant moved her to third, but she would be stranded there after Reber induced a groundout. After that, the Charger pitcher cruised through the final three frames, only giving up a single to Alyson Adams, who would be thrown out trying to stretch that hit into a double.
Despite being disappointed in the loss, Brininger was proud of the effort his team gave throughout the season, noting that after falling to Liberty Union in the district semifinals last year, their goal was to make it further into the tournament.
“We keep trying to move up another step every year,” he said. “We only have two seniors. They are very good and will be hard to replace, but only two seniors and we have a good freshman class coming up. We remembered that loss to Liberty Union and we’ll remember this one.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS