As a team moves deeper into the postseason, the margin of error gets smaller.
An unearned run and stringing one less hit together made the difference for Circleville on Monday in a 4-3 Division II Southeast District semifinal loss to Sheridan at Ohio University.
“I felt we were every bit as good as Sheridan, but they executed a little better in the field and at the plate than we did and that was the difference,” Circleville coach Dave Truex said. “I felt we lost our hitting focus in the middle innings and gave away six outs, but I also have to credit our girls for battling back. We had the tying run on in the seventh, but just couldn’t get her around.
“I can’t fought the fight in our girls. They never quit.”
Circleville took a 1-0 lead in the first when Chandler Hayes belted a solo shot over the left field wall.
Second-seeded Sheridan (17-7) scored an unearned run in the second to tie the game and then strung four of its six hits together in the fifth to score three more times and grab a 4-1 advantage.
The sixth-seeded Tigers responded in the sixth.
Alyssa Liston singled to left with one out and Cara Cooper worked a walk. A fly out by Katie Folkes to right allowed Liston to tag and advance to third, with Cooper stealing second during the following at-bat. Gabby McConnell helped her own cause with a two-out single to left that scored both runners and cut the Sheridan lead to 4-3.
McConnell allowed six hits and four runs (three earned) over six innings. She walked a batter and struck out two.
The Tigers lose one senior – Alaina Francis – to graduation.
“Alaina is a great kid who enjoys playing the game and a kid you want to be around and playing for you,” Truex praised. “We moved her from center to right this year and she did a really good job defensively and, at times, got some key hits.”
The Tigers went from four wins a season ago to a 15-7 campaign this season that included a district tournament berth. Truex wants to see the Tigers take the next step in 2023.
“We improved in every phase of the game this season to have that turnaround and the girls deserve credit for that,” he said. “For us to improve off this, we still need to learn that the little things can make a difference, be open to adjustments and not continuing to do things your own way. There is a reason why the coach coaches and teaches different techniques and fundamentals. You can either believe in them or try to do it your own way. At times, some of our girls struggled with that.”