May 22—A scouting report for anyone playing Bryan's softball team in the regional tournament or beyond: Beware of a big inning late in the game.
The Bears scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning when they beat Bath 8-7 on Saturday in the championship game of the Division II softball district at the University of Northwestern Ohio. That win came two days after they scored three runs in the sixth inning to beat Elida 4-3 in a district semifinal on Thursday.
Bath finished its season 14-14. Bryan (16-6) advanced to the Division II regional at New Riegel where it will play Lexington on Wednesday.
Bath overcame one-run leads by Bryan twice early in the game and had a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth when the Bears erupted for five runs with two out.
Even after Bryan went up 8-5, Bath almost pulled off one more comeback in the top of the seventh inning when Rachel Clark doubled with two out to score Shelby Marsteller, who had doubled, and Claire Foust who had drawn a walk.
Clark was 4 for 4 with two triples, a double and a single and drove in four runs. She was 7 of 9 in Bath's two district games.
"I told them going into that seventh inning, 'It's all in your hands still. You can change it.' God love Rachel Clark, she tried multiple times. She played a hell of a game. I think the hardest part is saying good-bye to the seniors we're going to miss big time," Bath coach Britt Lauck said.
"We wish the outcome would have been a little different but it is what it is. Bryan is a good team. We let a couple runs score and almost came back from it," she said.
Bath dominated Bryan in a regular-season game, winning 12-4 and getting 20 hits against Bryan's No. 1 pitcher Addison Arnold, who got a complete-game win on Saturday.
"It was a rough game for us for sure. We couldn't have played worse that game," Bryan coach Samantha Fowls said about the regular-season match-up. "I'm glad we came out with the mentality we had today. I didn't feel for one second that we were intimidated. It was a great job by all of them.
"The last game Addie didn't have a ton of movement. She really struggled that day. Today she kind of came in ready to go, ready to throw and she threw well," she said.
Bryan took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and Bath tied it on a triple by Clark and a bunt by Elena Oliver that scored Clark.
Bryan went up 2-1 in the third inning. Bath took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Marsteller was hit by a pitch, Olivia Foster bunted for a hit and Clark doubled to score both runners.
The Bears tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. Bath then got two runs in the top of the sixth with only one hit that got out of the infield.
A double by Foust, an infield single by Foster and an intentional walk to Clark loaded the bases.
Then Elena Oliver hit a slow roller to the pitcher, who had to dive for the ball, and Foust was safe at home when Arnold's throw pulled the catcher's foot off the plate, giving Bath a 4-3 lead. A bases-loaded walk to Dylan Grigsby made it 5-3.
Bryan used four consecutive hits and a Bath throwing error to score its five runs in the bottom of the sixth for its second consecutive comeback win, something it might not have been able to do earlier in the season.
"At the beginning of the year we really struggled to be able to put runs together and come back if we were down," Fowls said. "The girls stepped up and it was really a team effort all around."
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.