May 25—The Conneaut Area High School softball team defeated Hickory 8-1 in the District 10 4A quarterfinals at Allegheny College's Robertson Softball Field on Tuesday. The Lady Eagles used a six-run second inning to advance to the semifinal round.
"We took care of business," said Conneaut head coach Jason Onderko. "We took care of the ball. We have a ball first mentality and control the controllables and they did that."
Before the No. 4 seed Conneaut got separation, it was the No. 5 seed Lady Hornets that got on the scoreboard first. In the top of the first inning, Kendra Koerth got on base thanks to a leadoff single and moved up to second following a fielders choice. Kaitlyn Gilliland subsequently drove in Koerth for the Lady Hornets' only run of the game.
The Lady Hornets only accumulated five hits in Tuesday's game.
"We just lacked some hitting," said Hickory head coach Will Zachrich. "Our offense, we just couldn't string the hits together. We got a few hits here and there, but it wasn't together. We need that one or two innings where we need to just to come through and string them together, but it just didn't happen."
The Lady Eagles evened the score during their half of the first inning, which started with a single by Julianna Jacobs. Jacobs advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Lainie Harrington and later to third on a wild pitch. Following Harrington's bunt, Kaley Cook hit the ball to third base. The Lady Hornets attempted to tag Jacobs out at home, but she was safe after catcher Layla McClung couldn't hold on to the ball.
After the Lady Eagles tied the game, they went up for good during the bottom of the second. Eliza Harrington got things started with a leadoff single. Following another single by Jaidyn Jordan, Jacobs earned another hit, this time notching a double that enabled Harrington to come to the plate. Lainie Harrington also hit a double that scored both Jordan and Jacobs. After Cook drew a walk, Linda Shepard opened the game up with a three-run homer to cap the inning off. The Lady Eagles chased Hickory starting pitcher Lydia Hallas out of the game after the big inning.
"We just put the ball in play," Onderko said. "Made things happen. We had key hits in good situations. Linda took one out for us. That's always a big boost."
After the second inning, pitchers from both teams took over as the next three innings featured no runs. Hallie Miller pitched in relief of Hallas and weathered the storm for the Lady Hornets. Over four innings, Miller only allowed two hits and one run to go along with a pair of strikeouts.
Miller's only blemish was Shepard's second homer of the game in the sixth inning. Shepard finished the contest going 2-4 with four RBIs.
"It feels pretty good," Shepard said. "Just use everything you can. Gotta get those wins."
"She's been doing it all year and she's come big for us all year," Onderko added.
In the circle, Conneaut pitcher Erika Shrock pitched all seven innings while only allowing five hits, one run and one walk while striking out four batters.
"She's been doing it all year for us," Onderko said. "She's consistent, puts the ball where she needs to put it and is always battling."
With the win, the Lady Eagles will move on to take No. 1 seed Franklin in the semifinals on Thursday at a time and place to be determined. The Lady Knights defeated No. 8 seed Grove City 12-2 on Tuesday.
The Lady Knights come into the matchup with an 18-2 record overall while finishing 16-0 in Region 4. The Lady Knights are also the defending District 10 4A champions.
While the Lady Eagles will get to play at least one more game, the Lady Hornets have concluded their season after a 13-5 campaign.
"Overall, I think we did alright," Zachrich said. "Obviously, there's room for being better. We ended the season with a 13-5 record, which is a winning record, but when it's District 10 playoffs, it's one and done, so when the game's on the line, if you don't take that one, then there's nothing good about the season at that point."
With Hickory's season now over, four seniors have ended their time with the softball program: Koerth, Gilliland, Malaiah Burns and Ava Houy.
"It's gonna be hard to replace the four that we have right there," Zachrich said. "Three out of the four of them have been starters since they've been freshmen. They're three of four letter-winners. They come from a big class that kinda filtered down to the last four of those and it's gonna be hard to fill those shoes that are leaving this year."
(AB-R-H-BI) Koerth 4-1-1-0, L. Myers 3-0-0-0, Miller 3-0-0-0, Gilliland 2-0-1-0, Bochert 1-0-0-0, Fustos 3-0-0-0, McClung 3-0-0-0, Houy 1-0-0-0, Hallas 1-0-1-0, Burns 1-0-0-0, Reardon 1-0-0-0, M. Myers 3-0-1-0. Totals 26-1-5-0.
(AB-R-H-BI) Jacobs 4-2-2-1, L. Harrington 3-1-1-2, Cook 3-1-1-1, Shepard 4-2-2-4, Wise 4-0-1-0, E. Harrington 3-1-2-0, Barabas 2-0-0-0, Jordan 3-1-1-1, Shrock 3-0-0-0. Totals 29-8-10-8.
Hickory 100 000 0 — 1 5 2
Conneaut 160 001 0 — 8 10 1
2B: C — Jacobs, L. Harrington.
HR: C — Shepard 2.
(IP-H-R-ER-SO-BB) H — Hallas LP 2-8-7-7-1-1, Miller 4-2-1-1-2-0; C — Shrock WP 7-5-1-0-4-1.
Records: Hickory 13-5; Conneaut 13-4.
Alex McGinley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by e-mail at .