By BRIAN BASSETT
MIDDLE POINT - When the Crestview Lady Knight softball team is involved in a 1-run tournament game, odds are that they are the winner.
The Lincolnview Lady Lancers (16-3) gave the Lady Knights a dose of their own medicine, however, Tuesday evening in the sectional championship game at Lancer field.
Lincolnview, behind a dominating performance from junior pitcher Ashley McClure and a clutch RBI single by senior centerfielder Jodie Doner, beat Crestview 1-0 to take the sectional championship.
The Lady Lancer win prevents the Lady Knights from claiming their 11th straight sectional title. Crestview (13-9), the reigning state champion, had won 13 of the 14 previous sectional titles.
“It feels great,” admitted Lincolnview coach Kent McClure. “We’re not done yet. We’ve got to play them Thursday.”
McClure was referring to the final Northwest Conference game of the season for both teams, which will take place Thursday at Crestview.
As far as Tuesday’s contest, both McClure and Crestview sophomore pitcher Terra Crowle were incredibly good on the mound, combining to surrender only eight hits.
McClure got the best of her counterpart, however, by taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. The Lincolnview ace eventually gave up two hits, but allowed no runs while striking out five and walking two in her seven-inning outing.
“Ashley pitched a great game. Actually (assistant) Coach Coppus, (senior catcher) Lauren (Calvert) and Ashley pitched a great game. We scouted them during the year and obviously, that worked,” explained Coach McClure.
The game, which lasted less than an hour-and-a-half was well played on all accounts. Neither team committed an error.
“You’ve got to give them all the credit in the world,” explained Crestview head coach Owen Pugh. “They got the hit tonight when they needed it.”
That hit came in the form of Doner’s RBI single in the top of the fifth. With the game tied at zero, Calvert singled to open the frame. Junior first baseman Macey Ashbaugh then bunted Calvert to second. Crowle got a quick strikeout for the second out of the inning.
With two strikes on Doner, Crowle threw a changeup which Doner stayed back on long enough to drive the pitch into center field and score senior Courtney Gorman, who was running for Calvert.
“Our seniors are going to come through,” McClure said of the Doner hit. “Having Courtney Gorman on as a courtesy runner was key.”
Lost in the shuffle was a very nice outing put in by Crowle. She allowed five Lady Lancers hits and one earned run, while striking out nine and walking only one in seven innings.
The first real Crestview scoring threat came in the bottom of the sixth when junior catcher Riley Guest picked up a 1-out single. Junior third baseman Brooke Bowen then walked to put runners on first and second and senior DP Brittany Helt bunted the runners to second and third.
Junior first baseman and three-hole hitter Kirstin Hicks then came up but flew out to deep left field to end the inning.
“In the sixth inning we had the people we wanted up. We had base runners in scoring position and we had Kirstin up. We couldn’t have drawn it up any better, and it just didn’t happen,” Pugh said.
The Lady Knights threatened again with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Freshman second baseman Haley Helm and sophomore shortstop Mackenzie Riggenbach each singled to put runners on first and second, prompting a mound visit by Coach McClure.
“I told them let’s get the out. Then it will be second and third with two outs and the bottom of the order (up). We just needed to get an out. If we keep them to one run we’ll play them to extra innings,” explained McClure.
Fortunately for the Lady Lancers it didn’t come to that. Ashley McClure induced a ground ball to herself and retired Helm at third. A flyout then ended the game and gave the Lady Lancers the sectional title.
“It’s just not going our way right now. You’ve got to put the ball in play more than we did tonight. We didn’t get it done,” Pugh explained.
Beside Doner and Calverts hits in the fifth, Crowle scattered three more. Sophomore shortstop Bailey Neate singled in the first, Ashbaugh singled in the third and freshman DP Autumn Proctor reached on an infield single in the sixth.
No hitter on either team had multiple hits,and there were no extra-base hits for either team.
The excitment of Tuesday’s game only further sets the stage for Thursday’s contest. A win for Crestview (7-1) would give it the outright NWC championship. A Lincolnview (6-2) win would force a 3-way tie atop the conference between the two teams, Lima Central Catholic (7-2) and possibly Columbus Grove (5-2).
Thursday’s game will be the second attempt to make up a game from eariler this season. The game was most recently postponed after an inning of play with, fittingly, the score tied at zero.
Lincolnview 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 - 1 5
Crestview 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 2
WP - A. McClure; LP - Crowle.