Milestone Cat: Baldwin notches 300th career softball victory

WATERFORD – The Waterford Lady Wildcats scored early and often Wednesday night as they rolled to a 12-4 sectional semifinal victory over the Miller Purple Falcons at Waterford High School.

The Lady Cats scored four times in both the first and second innings and three more in the third and coasted the rest of the way to secure the 300th victory in the career of head coach Doug Baldwin.

“Our kids came out and hit the ball right from the start tonight,” said Baldwin of his team’s offensive production. “I told them before the game not to think about their opponent and just come out and hit the ball and that’s what they did.”

The green and white scored its first four runs with quite a bit of help from the Miller defense in the opening frame.

Laken Tolson led off with a walk and Laura Hill followed suit with a base on balls of her own one out later.

Hannah Offenberger then drove a shot that was misplayed by the Falcon left fielder to allow the first two runs of the game to score.

Tori Pyatt followed with yet another walk and then pulled off a double steal with Offenberger scoring to make it a 3-0 game.

Cierra Heiss then singled in Pyatt for the fourth run of the inning.

The Wildcats sent 10 hitters to the plate in the opening inning and followed that up with eight hitters coming to bat in the four run second.

Alana Heiss led off the second with a single and moved to third on a single by Offenberger.

Heiss and Offenberger pulled off the second Wildcat double steal of the game to make it 5-0 and consecutive base hits by first baseman Janelle Pugh and Cierra Heiss and another Falcon error made it an 8-0 Wildcat lead after just two innings of action.

The Cats made it 11-0 after the third inning as they batted around for the second time in three innings.

Nicole Neslein was hit by a pitch with one out and stole second.

Hill walked and once again the Wildcats executed the double steal to perfection to make it 9-0.

Offenberger then drilled an RBI double off the fence in left field and came around to score on a Pyatt single to make it 11-0.

Offenberger collected three hits in the game to go along with three runs scored and a pair of runs batted in.

“Hannah really makes things happen for us,” said Baldwin of his senior catcher turned shortstop. “She contributes every game in some way whether offensively or defensively or on the base paths.”

Hill started on the mound for the Cats and held Miller scoreless through the first three innings allowing just three hits and fanning four Falcon hitters.

With the comfortable lead, Baldwin elected to bring Lindsay Arnold on in relief to start the fourth inning and the junior went the rest of the way in the pitching circle for Waterford.

Arnold allowed four Miller four runs over the final four innings to gain the win for the Wildcats.

Win number 300 was an emotional one for Baldwin who got a good natured soaking from his team after the game to go along with a plaque commemorating the impressive achievement.

“I’ve had a lot of great kids through the years and we’ve had a lot of fun,” said the emotional Waterford skipper who was inducted into the Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Hall Of Fame back in January. “Over the years we have had a lot of great kids who have worked hard and that’s why we have won.”

Victory number 301 for Baldwin would secure another sectional title for the Lady Wildcats but will not come easy as they travel to Stewart to battle a Federal Hocking Lady Lancer team that defeated them twice in the regular season by scores of 7-5 and 4-1.

“We are starting to hit the ball a little better lately,” said Baldwin of his squad who collected 10 hits against Miller.

“Hopefully the bats will keep going and things will be clicking for us against Federal Hocking Saturday and we can return to the districts again.”

Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. in Stewart.