By Brad Morris
ASHVILLE — Leaving 11 runners left on base eventually came back to haunt Teays Valley on Monday in a 4-2 Division I Central District semifinal loss to visiting Olentangy Berlin.
But part of that could be explained by the outstanding outfield defense put on display by the Bears, highlighted by center fielder Izzie Wilson and left fielder Elizabeth Sprecher.
“One of the big differences in the game was the outfield defense that Berlin had tonight,” Teays Valley coach Derrick Hastler said. “Their center fielder was just outstanding and took away two or three hits, at least, by herself and then their left fielder made a really nice diving catch.
“We’re the type of team that once we start scoring, we can string some things together and put some crooked numbers on the scoreboard. They made two or three plays that snuffed out what could have been scoring innings or bigger scoring innings.”
Wilson limited the damage the Vikings could impose in the first inning.
After Michelle Brumfield was hit by a pitch, Morgan Cantrell hit a liner to dead center field that Wilson raced back on and made a nice running grab of to keep her off base.
Following another fly out to Wilson, back-to-back singles to left and center by Reagan Mengerink and Alyssa Brown allowed Brumfield to score the first run of the night.
Wilson nearly took away Brown’s RBI single but was not able to come up with the ball on a diving attempt.
The third-seeded Vikings (24-5) threatened again in the second with runners on the corners for Cantrell, who hit a low liner to center that Wilson made an outstanding shoe-string grab on to take away extra bases and potentially two runs from scoring.
No. 17 seeded Berlin (17-9) took that momentum to the batter’s box and seized the lead for good with a three-run third.
A squeeze by Ava Kresak allowed Wilson to score and tie the game.
Following back-to-back singles by Sydney Davis and Jocelyn Franz, Addi Davis lined a double to left that chased home both runners.
The Vikings tried to answer in the fifth with the tying runs on second and third, but Sprecher made a diving catch in left to take away a two-run double away from Brown.
Teays Valley finally cut into its deficit in the sixth.
Isabel Sayre doubled to left, advanced to third on a single to center by Aimee DeWeese and scored on a sacrifice fly to left off the bat of Alyvia Lawrentz.
Following a single to left by Sydney Manring and a swinging bunt from Brumfield to put runners on second and third, it was time for Wilson to rob Cantrell again on a diving grab in center to keep the Vikings from taking the lead.
Berlin scored an unearned run in the seventh to push its lead back to two runs.
The Vikings put the tying runs on base in their half of the inning, but a ground out to third ended the game and send the Bears on to a district final on either Friday or Saturday at Pickerington Central.
“People say that baseball and softball are a game of inches and that was the case for us,” Hastler said. “I don’t feel like we lost the game. Our girls played hard and competed.
“Berlin came in here and won the game with some outstanding defense, executing in a situation or two just a little better than we did or by getting a good bounce or two of the softball.”
Berlin avenged a 10-8 loss to Teays Valley last month.
Mengerink and DeWeese led the Vikings with a pair of hits.
The Vikings end their season with a second consecutive Mid-State League Buckeye Division championship and will take a 30-game league winning streak into next season.
Teays Valley loses Mengerink and Brown — two cornerstone players at catcher and shortstop who batted fourth and fifth in the lineup — along with outfielders Kenzie Carte and left fielder Ari Miles.
“Our girls love playing the game of softball together and they have a lot of fun doing it,” Hastler said. “That goes back to the culture and the leadership that our seniors have created and each of our four seniors are very special to our program for a variety of reasons.
“We had a number of new starters this season and our seniors helped to bring them along and led us to 24 wins, winning the league again and getting a top seed in the tournament. Obviously, we wanted to keep our season going for a while longer but, unfortunately, that’s softball sometimes. I wouldn’t trade these girls for anything.”
Olentangy Berlin 4, Teays Valley 2
Olen. Berlin 003 000 1 — 4 6 1
Teays Valley 100 001 0 — 2 9 3
Erwine, Kemper (6) and Young; Manring, Sayre (7) and Mengerink