Offenberger’s long ball powers ’Cats past Belpre

Hannah Offenberger’s fourth inning home run broke open a scoreless game and Laura Hill took care of things the rest of the way by tossing a four-hit shutout as the Waterford Lady Wildcats downed the visiting Belpre Lady Golden Eagles 4-0 Monday evening in a Tri Valley Conference Hocking Division contest.

Hill and Belpre starting pitcher Kaity Hager took turns putting zeroes on the board until Offenberger drove a ball over the fence in deep left center field to give Waterford a 1-0 lead.

“Hannah really put a charge into that one,” said Waterford head coach Doug Baldwin of Offenberger’s round tripper. “It was a nice shot and kind of got us going a little bit.”

Waterford added a pair more the following inning when Hill, Megan Giffin, and center fielder Nicole Neslein strung together consecutive base hits to increase the lead to 3-0.

After allowing a pair of two-out first inning singles to Mollie Miller and Kelsey Pratt, Hill allowed just two more hits the rest of the way.

“She has been consistent for us all year long,” said Baldwin of his junior right hander, who did not walk a batter and fanned four in her complete game outing. “She threw a lot of strikes and spotted the ball very well tonight.”

Hill was also supported by some spectacular defense as outfielders Chelsey Streight and Neslein both made diving catches that took away base hits from Belpre.

“Our defense was a real key,” said Baldwin. “Those catches by Streight and Neslein really stopped them (Belpre) from putting together any kind of big inning.”

Waterford capped the scoring in the last of the sixth when Offenberger doubled, moved to third on a base hit by Janelle Pugh and scored on a Belpre error.

Waterford collected seven hits in the game including two apiece by Offenberger and Giffin.

Miller accounted for two of the four Belpre hits in the game.

Hager threw five innings of five-hit, three-run ball to take the loss, while Kaylee Dye allowed the final Waterford run in her lone inning of work.

The Lady Eagles, led by 25th year head coach Ken Cox, slipped to 2-3 on the season, while the Lady ‘Cats improved to 5-3.

Baldwin likes the direction that his team is heading in.

“We are still very early in the season, but we are getting better each time out,” said Baldwin. “Hopefully we will continue to get better both offensively and defensively.”

Waterford will travel to Miller on Friday, while the Lady Eagles will pay a visit to Fort Frye today.

Baseball

With both teams very much in need of a victory, the Belpre Golden Eagles slipped past the Waterford Wildcats 5-4 Monday night on the strength of a two-run ninth inning.

Belpre jumped out to a 3-1 lead only to see the Wildcats plate a pair of runs in the last of the fifth inning to tie the game at 3-3.

Catcher Brian Moore doubled off the fence in deep left center field to score the first Wildcat run of the fifth and promptly stole third.

Devon Patterson then lifted a fly ball into right field that would be deep enough to plate Moore from third with the tying run.

Both teams threatened to take the lead in the sixth inning but some quality relief pitching by Waterford’s Josh Schaad and Belpre’s Mike Simonette kept the score tied heading to the final frame.

Kyle Winland singled into left field to start the inning and came all the way around to score the go ahead run when freshman Tavian Miller tripled into the right center field gap.

“We haven’t been able to get the key hit of late with people on base,” said Belpre head coach Terry Mullen. “Tonight we found a way.”

The Wildcats got a lead off single by Brent Ginther in the last of the seventh but the next two WHS hitters were retired bringing Moore back to the plate representing the tying run.

The senior delivered once again as his double to the fence in right center plated Ginther and trimmed the lead to 5-4.

“We seem to be becoming a pretty good late inning team,” said Waterford head coach Chad Augenstein. “Brian (Moore) is a leader on this team and he got a couple of big hits. I can’t ask for anymore than he gave us tonight.”

Patterson followed with a single to right but Simonette induced Schaad to ground out to second base for the final out of the game.

“We needed a win tonight in the worst way,” said Mullen, in his 15th year as Eagle head coach. “We’ve had a couple of games that we let get away lately so it is good to get a win tonight.”

Both teams will return to action Friday when the Golden Eagles host Southern and the Wildcats travel to Miller.