By Brad Morris
The sentiments of Circleville coach Dave Truex and Sheridan coach Mark Paxton were probably shared by those who attended a Division II Southeast District semifinal on Monday between the Tigers and Generals.
Sheridan scored three runs in the ninth inning to take a 7-4 lead. Circleville scored twice in its half of the inning to fall 7-6 at Ohio University.
“We were talking about what a battle our two teams just had and how it was more like a regional championship game than a district semifinal,” Truex said. “It was a very exciting game to be part of, going back-and-forth the whole way, between two good teams. Unfortunately, we came out on the short end.”
Sheridan (20-7) scored twice in the first, but the Tigers (20-7) answered in their half of the inning to tie the game.
Chandler Hayes worked a walk and scored one out later on a two-run homer over the right field fence off the bat of Cara Cooper.
The Generals regained the lead at 3-2 in the third, but the Tigers responded with a pair of runs in the fourth to take their first lead of the game.
Hayes homered over the left field fence with one out. Cooper singled to left one out later and scored on a double to left center off the bat of Gabby McConnell.
Sheridan came right back in the fifth with a run to knot the score at 4-4, with the game eventually going into extra innings, when the Generals eventually put a trio of runs on the scoreboard in the ninth.
McConnell reached on an error with one out in the ninth and advanced to third on a double to left by Ella Michael. After a strikeout, Gracie Riddick doubled to left to drive in both runners.
Cooper led the Tigers with three hits, including a two-run homer, and Riddick doubled twice and drove in two runs.
The Tigers won 20 games this season and finished second in the Mid-State League Buckeye Division. The Tigers lose seniors Cooper, Hayes, Riddick, Hope Seiler, Allie Jones, Katie Folkes and Alyssa Liston to graduation.
“Our seniors have been through a lot and have shown a lot of perseverance,” Truex said. “They missed their freshmen season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and missed playing with the seniors on that team. As sophomores, they were really freshmen, and we had a very young team that had to learn what it took to succeed at the varsity level.
“We started to turn the corner, winning 15 games last season, and we won five more games this season. I think missing that freshmen season held them back a bit, but they showed a lot of development over the last two years and have been a good group to be around.”
The Tigers are slated to return third baseman Claire Davis, second baseman Ella Michael and pitcher Gabby McConnell to build around in 2024.
“This was a senior-laden team, but we do have some nice pieces to start building the puzzle again for next season, along with some freshmen who were behind our seniors and a pretty solid eighth-grade group,” Truex said. “It’ll be another interesting season, where how hard our kids work in the offseason will help determine how much success we have on the field.”