Lancers oust Wildcats for sectional crown
STEWART – Federal Hocking softball coach Glenn Hatfield and his Lady Lancers had set just three goals they hoped to achieve prior to the 2013 season.
Number one was to host a sectional tournament game, number two was to win a sectional championship, and number three was to break the school record of 16 wins in a season.
After Monday night’s 8-3 home victory over the Waterford Lady Wildcats clinched the first sectional championship in Federal Hocking softball history, Hatfield and his squad can put a check mark beside two of those goals.
“It’s awesome and great for our program,” said Hatfield of the Lady Lancers huge win. “This group of kids have worked very hard and were trained very well and learned the basics coming up. They made my job easy.”
The Lady Lancers had already defeated the Lady ‘Cats twice earlier in the season as they scored a 7-5 victory on April 15th in Waterford and a 4-1 victory back on the second of May at home.
Monday night it would be Ashton Cale who led the way for the Lancers as the junior collected a pair of hits, scored three runs, and tossed a complete game six-hitter.
“I’ve been on a pretty good roll offensively so it was good to keep that going,” said Cale, who paced a 10-hit Federal Hocking attack. “It’s awesome, it’s what I have been waiting for since my freshman year.”
Federal Hocking scored twice in the opening inning as Carly Tabler led off with a bunt single, stole second and third and scored on a Waterford fielding error.
One out later center fielder Whitney Gillian delivered a clutch two-out run scoring single to make it a 2-0 game.
The Lady Wildcats tied things up in the top of the third inning when Lakin Tolson led off with a walk, moved to second on a single by Alana Heiss, and scored on Hannah Offenberger’s opposite field double.
Lady ‘Cat starting pitcher Laura Hill helped herself by lifting a sacrifice fly to left field to even things up at 2-2.
It wouldn’t take FedHock long to recapture the lead however as they sent eight batters to the plate in the bottom of the third to score three more times and jump out to a 5-2 lead.
Katie Hickman led off with a single and one out later Kendyl Furner and Cale came up with back-to-back singles before Kyrsten Young rounded out the scoring with a two-out base hit of hter own.
The Wildcats appeared poised to put together a big inning of their own in the top of the fourth as they loaded the bases with no one out on a walk, an error, and a base hit by Chelsey Streight, but Cale and her defense rallied to retire the next three hitters without allowing a single run to score.
“That was huge,” said Cale of her teams ability to get out of trouble in the fourth. “There were nerves obviously, but that we were able to overcome that was even better.”
The Lancers added an insurance run in the fifth on a one-out double by Cale who eventually scored on a Wildcat wild pitch.
The green and white trimmed the lead back to three with a sixth inning marker on a base hit by Cierra Heiss and an RBI ground out by Jayde Heiss, but Federal Hocking plated two more runs in the last of the sixth including RBI hits off of the bats of Hickman and Furner.
Cale was the beneficiary of several nice plays by the Lancer defense including a nice running catch in the fifth inning by Gillian and a nice double play started by Furner in the final frame.
The win was the 15th of the season against 11 losses for Federal Hocking and leaves them just one win shy of tying the all time school record of 16.
Federal Hocking will get the chance to tie the record when they travel to Minford today to take on Portsmouth Clay in a district semi-final.
The Lady Lancers also still have a regular season make up game remaining against South Gallia.
The Wildcat season comes to a close with a 10-13 record.
“Our kids have played hard all year, we just couldn’t seem to get anybody in when we needed them,” said Waterford head coach Doug Baldwin, who chalked up win number 300 in his career last week against Miller. “Federal Hocking is a very good ball club.”
The game was the last game in the career’s of Waterford seniors Offenberger, Janelle Pugh, Jayde Heiss, Megan Giffin, and Tori Pyatt.