Prep softball: Waterford upsets No. 4-ranked Fairfield

MINFORD – Underdog Waterford had a Wildcat bite.

The Doug Baldwin-coached ‘Cats upset No. 4-ranked Leesburg Fairfield 4-3 in an Ohio Division IV district semifinal softball game at Minford High Thursday.

On the return trip to Washington County, Waterford celebrated its triumph at Pizza Hut in Jackson.

“We got a good draw, and we thought our chances were pretty good, going into this game,” said Baldwin, whose green and white squad is scheduled to return to Minford High to play Bainbridge Paint Valley – a 4-1 winner over Southern -in a district final Saturday at 1 p.m. “It feels pretty good to beat Fairfield.”

Waterford evened its record at 10-10, while the Lions exit with a 17-5 mark.

“I think if our girls show up and play like we did against Fairfield, we’ll be OK in the district championship game,” Baldwin said.

Wildcat righty Laura Hill (10-8) went the seven inning distance on the hill and got the win. She struck out five and walked none.

Lions’ ace Arica Melson (14-3) suffered the mound setback. She threw 4.1 innings, fanning eight and walking four.

Nicole Neslein had two of Waterford’s three hits, including a double, in the contest.

“Our hits and walks went together well,” Baldwin said.

Waterford staked itself to a 1-0 advantage in the top of the third inning when Neslein doubled home Paige McCutcheon, who had gotten on base on an error.

Fairfield came back in the bottom half of the frame to take a 2-1 lead. Kourtnie Smith scored on a Wildcat error, and all-stater Shelby Smithson’s RBI two-basehit highlighted the inning.

The Wildcats tied the score in the fourth when McCutcheon singled home Chelsey Streight, who’d gotten on base as a hit batter. Lindsay Arnold was also hit by a pitch.

The Lions loaded up the bases in the bottom of the inning, and regained the advantage, 3-2, on a Cats’ miscue.

In the top of the fifth, Lakin Tolson led off with a walk, stole second, and advanced to third on Neslein’s single.

Tolson then scored on a Melson wild pitch, tying the game at 3-all. After Alana Heiss walked, Neslein scored the go-ahead run, 4-3, on Hill’s groundout.

Baldwin said Waterford has not won a district softball title since his second year at the helm, 22 years ago.