By Brad Morris
Logan Elm put itself in position on Monday to upset top-ranked Athens, but leaving a small village on base eventually came back to haunt the Braves in a 4-3 Division II Southeast District semifinal loss at Ohio University.
Athens (24-1) entered the game ranked by the state coaches’ association as the best team in Division II with a powerful offense that averages 12.3 runs per game.
Logan Elm actually out-hit Athens 12-4. Tia Fowler turned in a perfect ledger going 4-for-4 with an RBI, Addie Smith turned in a 2-for-4 evening, and Jacie Clifton was 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored.
“I’m proud of our girls, because they bought in and believed we could go play with the best team in the state in Division II,” Logan Elm coach Jeri Hartley said. “We were playing our best softball of the season in the tournament and we gave Athens a run for their money.”
Freshman Sadie Binkley allowed four hits and four earned runs. She walked six and struck out seven in six innings.
“Sadie really competed hard in the circle and had a small strike zone to throw to,” Hartley observed. “She did a great job of mixing her pitches, she had a lot of movement and she gave us a chance to win.”
The Braves (14-10) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first.
Binkley jumped on the first offering of the game and lined a single to center. The Braves eventually loaded the bases with one out after a double to center courtesy of Clifton and Meredith Jarvis being hit by a pitch.
Ryleigh Wolfe singled to center to knock in Binkley with the first run of the game.
After a strikeout, Tia Fowler singled to left to drive in Clifton.
Athens struck for three runs in the second, highlighted by a two-run homer by Khyla Brannon.
The Braves eventually battled back in the fourth to tie the game at 3-3.
Kaitlyn Otterbacher opened the frame with a single to left and advanced to second one out later on a sacrifice bunt by Lynsay VanHoose. Clifton then hit a 2-2 pitch to left to allow Otterbacher to dent the dish.
Athens regained the lead for good in the fifth on a two-out double to left by Olivia Banks that drove in Bailee Toadvine.
While the Braves out-hit the Bulldogs by a 3-1 ratio, they also left 12 runners stranded on the sacks.
“We put ourselves in position to win the game, but one of the things that held us back from that was not stringing together enough hits to score more runs,” Hartley said. “We left a lot of runners on base.”
The Braves lose one senior, second baseman Meredith Jarvis, to graduation.
“Meredith is an incredible human being who lifts our team up. She can take a tense situation and make us all laugh,” Hartley said. “She’s a great leader who worked really hard during the preseason and had that work pay off during the season. She did an excellent job for our team and she left everything on the field.”