FINDLAY — In game one of the Division III, Findlay Regional semifinals pairings on Wednesday, the Galion Lady Tigers took on the Sherwood Fairview Lady Apaches. On the line was a chance at an Elite Eight berth and the chance to play for a regional championship game. Entering the contest, Fairview sat as the No. 4 ranked team in the state according to the polls released on Monday, May 20.
Galion came in as the underdogs but appeared ready to take on the task despite going down in order to begin the first inning. Tigers’ ace Madelyn Thomas showed though that she was up to the task at hand as she returned the favor and shutdown the highly potent Fairview offense to close out the first with the aide of a lineout double play initiated by Galion third baseman Kate Schieber.
Schieber proceeded to lead-off the second for the Lady Tigers and collected the first hit by either team in the contest, a single. Schieber would not remain at first long though as Emily Sedmak crushed a ball to the wall to send her teammate to third with nobody out. Gracie Groves collected the first run batted in in the game on a sacrifice fly, scoring Schieber from third and moving Sedmak to third base in the process. Thomas would flyout to second and Kayden Caudill hit into a 6-3 grounder to end the Galion threat, stranding Sedmak at third. In the bottom of the second, Fairview went down in order again with Thomas picking up a strikeout to end the frame.
Teanna Greter got the offense kickstarted in the third with a lead-off single and after a Gabby Kaple single, would move to third via a throwing error by the Apaches’ third baseman, Kendyl Kime before being thrown out at the plate on a Nicole Thomas fielder’s choice as Kaple moved up to third. Nevaeh Clark and Schieber would draw walks to load the bases for the Tigers as Schieber’s walk plated Kaple. Later in the inning, Groves delivered Thomas and Schieber home with a double to put Galion up 4-0 heading into the bottom of the frame. The Apaches were still unable to figure out M. Thomas and went on to strand a runner at second in the bottom of the inning with no runs coming across on no hits.
Caudill lead-off the Galion fourth with a double and, in bizarre fashion, scored on a Greter attempted sacrifice bunt. The bunt, well executed, not only moved Caudill to third but, thanks to a pair of errors by Fairview, put Greter at third and scored Caudill for the Tigers fifth run. Kaple drew a walk and following a long flyout to center field from N. Thomas, Clark delivered Greter home with a single to put the Tigers up 6-0. With just one out and the bases loaded, Groves ripped her second double of the contest to score Kaple and Clark to extend the “underdogs” lead further heading into the bottom of the fourth; 8-0. Fairview got their first hits of the game in the fourth but were unable to manufacture any offense to put runs on the board.
With a chance to put the game in a potential run-rule scenario, Greter laced a one-out single and would move on third following another Kaple single. With runners at second and third, N. Thomas delivered Greter across home plate, sending up Clark. Clark would also rip a single, scoring Kaple and sending the always dangerous Schieber to the dish. Schieber got in on the single-party, scoring Thomas to send the score to 11-0. Clark would later score on a Groves walk which gave Groves her sixth RBI of the game. M. Thomas would flyout to short, as would Caudill but Galion headed into the bottom of the fifth with a commanding, 12-0 lead.
Down to their final three outs of the season, Fairview lead-off the frame with an Emerald Rittenhouse-Starbuck flyout to Schieber at third. Sami Kime drove the ball to Kaple in shallow center but Kaple dropped the ball for the error and Kime found herself at first base. Riley Collins hit into a 5-3 fielder’s choice that sent Kime to second with two outs. In stepped Anna Ankney for the Lady Apaches. Ankney earned her lone hit of the game, a single, that sent Kime to third and put runners at the corners for Fairview. With Kinsey Dietrich up, Thomas delivered a wild pitch that was collected by Sedmak behind the plate. Sedmak threw the ball to home as Kime attempted to spoil the shutout. Despite beating the throw, Kime never touched home plate and was called out to end the ball game with the Galion Lady Tigers advancing to the regional championship game; 12-0.
M. Thomas was stellar in the circle for Galion, going the entire five innings and scattering just four hits while walking one and striking out two in the win. By picking up the win, Thomas, still just a junior, set a new Galion High School record by picking up her 48th win of her career, surpassing Cathy (Montgomery) Bash’s record of 47 that stood for 37 years.
Logan Smith took the loss for Fairview, going the first three innings allowing six hits and five runs while walking three. Rittenhouse-Starbuck pitched the remained, giving up nine hits and eight runs and walking a pair.
The Lady Tigers plated their 12 runs on 15 hits and stranded eight on base, seven of which were in scoring position.
Offensive statistics for Galion in the win were: Kaple- 2-1B, 3R; N. Thomas- 1B, RBI, 2R, 2SB; Clark- 2-1B, 2RBI, 2R; Schieber- 2-1B, SB, 2RBI, 2R; Sedmak- 1B, 2B; Groves- 2-2B, 6RBI; Caudill- 2B, R and Greter- 3-1B, 2R.
The Lady Tigers will get a rematch of last season’s regional semifinals game as they face the No. 2 team in the state, the Cardington Lady Pirates. Cardington defeated the Eastwood Lady Eagles on Wednesday by a final of 3-0. The game between Galion and Cardington was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 25 at noon but was moved up to Friday, May 24 at 6 p.m. The winner of the regional championship will punch their ticket to the State Final Four and will meet up with the winner from the Dayton Regional on Friday, May 30 at Akron’s Firestone Stadium. West Liberty-Salem and West Jefferson are clashing in the Dayton Regional championship game.
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