PICKERINGTON — East Knox softball had never won a district semifinal before, let alone a district championship game.
The Bulldogs were able to check both accomplishments off the list with a memorable week.
Maddy Cotsamire allowed only two base runners in a one-hitter, striking out nine and walking just one, and third-seeded East Knox out-hit seventh seed Newark Catholic 12-1 en route to a dominant 6-0 victory Saturday in the Division IV district finals at Pickerington Central.
In spoiling a title repeat by the Green Wave (8-17), a defending state semifinalist, the Bulldogs (12-9) advanced to their first regional semifinal and will play Russia at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Clayton Northmont.
Cotmsamire retired the first 15 batters she faced before walking Mya Stokes leading off the sixth. Kami Diaz, who earlier just missed a home run down the left field line, singled leading off the seventh, but was promptly erased on a double play.as Cotsamire faced just one hitter over the minimum. Meanwhile, the East Knox offense put runners on in every inning and the defense didn't commit an error.
"Today, they were the better team, and hats off to them," said NC co-head coach Devani Adam. "They fielded the ball well, hit the ball well and put it in play, and we didn't make plays."
"She (Cotsamire) pitched an incredible game," said co-head coach Rob Smith. "We had scouted her a couple of times, and she pitched a lot better than what we had seen."
The Bulldogs collected six hits in the first two innings off senior Kilee Banjoff, but she was able to limit the damage and East Knox led just 2-0. Shanda Melick had a sacrifice fly in the first, but Banjoff struck out Gracie Sheasby and Hannah McCoy popped out to first. Four hits in the second produced another run, but Natalie Smith lined back to Banjoff and she threw to first for a double play.
The dam broke in the fourth, as East Knox took advantage of two NC errors, had three more hits and scored four times to open a commanding 6-0 lead. The Green Wave committed four errors on the day. Avery Nagel pitched two scoreless innings, but the damage had been done and NC never could get anything going against Cotsamire.
Last season, the Green Wave caught fire in the tournament with a young team and reached the Final 4 for the first time. They started five freshmen, but one of them, talented all-around athlete Kylie Gibson, had surgery to fix a lingering knee injury and wasn't able to play this spring.
The team could never quite find last year's magic, but next season should find them with a solid nucleus as the program continues to grow.
"A lot of sophomores played, who will be juniors, along with a couple of freshmen," Adam said. "Getting Kylie back will make a big difference. I'm excited to see what the future brings."
This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Determined East Knox softball makes history against Newark Catholic