As was the case with many games in the area, the Division IV softball District Final at Bryan had to be postponed from its original date of Friday, May 19th and be played on Monday, May 22nd. It was the third meeting of the season between these BBC and Williams County rivals with North Central winning the first two encounters. The outcome this time would be different with the Lady Cadets taking an early lead and then withstanding the Lady Eagles rally to defeat North Central 9-7.
Hilltop wasted little time scoring two runs in the bottom of the 1st inning for a 2-0 lead. After Lady Cadets pitcher Aubrey Wyse held North Central scoreless in the top of the 2nd, Hilltop added three more runs in the bottom of the inning and were quickly out in front 5-0 going to the 3rd. Both teams went scoreless in the 3rd and it remained 5-0 heading to the bottom of the 4th. Hilltop tacked on another run to extend their lead to 6-0 and suddenly North Central was seeing their tournament run slip away. That’s when North Central would mount a furious rally, with the Lady Eagles pushing across five runs to make it a 6-5 game moving to the bottom of the 5th. With the momentum clearly on the side of the home team on the scoreboard, the Lady Cadets responded. Hilltop put up three runs off of North Central starting pitcher Makayla Hayes to push their lead to 9-5 after five innings in the Fountain City.
The pitchers were in control in the 6th inning so it was still 9-5 going to the 7th. The Lady Eagles, down to their last three outs, did not go quietly. North Central scored twice to make it a 9-7 game and make the Hilltop fans very nervous. Pitcher Aubrey Wyse was then able to slam the door on the Lady Eagles rally and it was Hilltop with a 9-7 win and a berth in the Regional Semifinals. Wyse helped her cause at the plate for Hilltop by going 2-3 and scoring three runs. The Lady Cadets also picked up offense from Becca Miller going 2-4 with a double and two RBI’s, Haley Stephens who was 1-4 including a triple with two RBI’s and Abby Schaper with a 1-3 performance and two RBI’s.
Audrey Funkhouser had a double as part of her 2-3 with a RBI night. Wyse went the distance in the circle for Hilltop going seven innings, allowing ten hits, seven runs, with one walk and four strikeouts. Makayla Hayes had a big night for North Central at the plate going 2-3 with a home run and three RBI’s. She also was the pitcher of record for the Lady Eagles, throwing six innings, surrendering nine runs on ten hits, with zero walks and three strikeouts. Alyssa Swank, Sidney Mckarns, and Madyson Bonney each had two hits apiece for North Central (14-6). Both teams struggled in the field at times with a combined eight errors between the two. Next up for Hilltop (21-9) is a matchup with 10th ranked Carey (16-5) in the Regional Semifinals on Wednesday, May 24th at 2pm at The Marathon Diamonds in Findlay. The winner will take on the winner of the other semifinal between Convoy Crestview and top ranked Gibsonburg. The Regional Final is scheduled for Saturday, May 27th at 12:00pm.