This time, Heath softball gets the jump on Bloom-Carroll for repeat district championship

·4 min read

PICKERINGTON — Three swings of the bat have now decided Heath's back-to-back Division II district softball championship wins against Bloom-Carroll.

Only on Saturday at sweltering Pickerington Central, two of them came in the first inning instead of the ninth against Ohio State-bound pitcher Lexi Paulsen.

After senior Katlyn Jardine drilled a 2-run homer, freshman Sydney Cottrell followed with a solo blast and sent Heath (21-5) on its way to a 5-0 victory. They were the only hits of the game for the winners, but after another battle of the Bulldogs, it will again be the Licking County League team headed back to Pickerington Central at 5 p.m. Wednesday. They'll face Indian Valley (22-6) in the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year.

Heath seniors Katlyn Jardine and Makayla Jardine raise the Division II district championship trophy following the Bulldogs' 5-0 victory against Bloom-Carroll at Pickerington Central on Saturday, May 21, 2022.
Heath seniors Katlyn Jardine and Makayla Jardine raise the Division II district championship trophy following the Bulldogs' 5-0 victory against Bloom-Carroll at Pickerington Central on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

"It was huge," Jardine said of her shot, which sailed well over the left field fence with Kyndall Spicer aboard on a walk, as Heath jumped ahead 2-0. "It was an inside fastball. I was looking middle-out, but I knew she came inside once in a while, and I turned on it." Cottrell then smacked her home run over the center field fence and suddenly, it was 3-0 in the first.

"I told the girls coming in, I thought we had to score three runs to win, and it would probably be a one-run game," coach Ray Cooksey said. "They got the message."

Bloom-Carroll (16-8), which lost 1-0 to Heath last year on a ninth-inning homer by Shelby Flynn, looked ready to jump ahead in the top of the first. Addy Luke had a one-out single, and Madi Grefe reached on an error. But third baseman Jardine gloved Paulsen's liner, and alertly threw to first for the inning-ending double play. B-C then managed only one more hit off Sydney Chapman and Renae Cunningham, and got only two runners in scoring position.

"The same thing happened in our last game," Cooksey said. "It stopped their momentum. Our girls were prepared, hungry and really wanted this."

Heath junior Sydney Chapman pitches against Bloom-Carroll during a Division II district final at Pickerington Central on Saturday, May 20, 2022. Chapman threw five shutout innings for the Bulldogs during a 5-0 victory.
Heath junior Sydney Chapman pitches against Bloom-Carroll during a Division II district final at Pickerington Central on Saturday, May 20, 2022. Chapman threw five shutout innings for the Bulldogs during a 5-0 victory.

"They turned the double play, and it just shut everything down," lamented B-C coach Chris Lucas. "Other than that, the pitchers did a good job. Their pitchers kept us off the bases the rest of the day, so kudos to them."

Paulsen fanned 14 over six innings in her two-hitter. In fact, the first 10 Heath outs came on strikeouts. However, she walked five and hit a batter, enabling Heath to add on two big insurance runs in the third inning.

Cunningham was hit by a pitch and Jardine walked. With one out, Shelby Moore bunted down the first base line, but the ball was thrown past the first baseman, allowing Cunningham to score. With two outs, Makayla Jardine walked to load the bases, and Chapman scrapped for a bases-loaded walk on a 3-2 count, making it 5-0.

"I was a nervous wreck," Chapman admitted after fouling off a few pitches to stay alive. "All I kept thinking, was don't swing at the riseball, don't swing at the riseball."

"We worked on staying off the riseball," Cooksey said. "We watched a lot of video on her, and tried to set our machine accordingly. Actually, it's more like a high fastball rather than a riseball, because it doesn't have the spin. But whatever it is, she's tough."

Heath's dynamic duo was just as tough, as the crafty Chapman gave up just two hits and two walks in five innings with six strikeouts. The fireballing Cunningham finished up with two strikeouts, a walk and no hits over the final two innings.

"It was mainly my screwball, working them inside, and they couldn't get the bat on it," Chapman said. "Sydney did an outstanding job and kept them off balance," Cooksey said. "It seemed like they could never line up a good hit against her."

The early lead certainly didn't hurt matters.

"It was actually relaxing, knowing I had something to lean on," Chapman said. "They're a good team, and you think that they'll get some runs in. That was an amazing home run by Katlyn. We're all really happy for her, and she deserved it."

"We've all worked a lot, put a lot of effort in, for softball and Heath softball," Jardine said.

Bloom-Carroll senior Lexi Paulsen pitches against Heath during a Division II district final at Pickerington Central on Saturday, May 20, 2022. Heath's Bulldogs beat Bloom-Carroll's Bulldogs 5-0.
Bloom-Carroll senior Lexi Paulsen pitches against Heath during a Division II district final at Pickerington Central on Saturday, May 20, 2022. Heath's Bulldogs beat Bloom-Carroll's Bulldogs 5-0.

Paulsen mowed down 32 on strikes in 15 innings and allowed only four hits in the two district final outings against Heath. Bloom-Carroll certainly felt it was well prepared for the rematch, but couldn't dent the plate in the two losses.

"We played a difficult schedule. There were a lot of ranked Division I teams that we lost to," Lucas said. "We thought that we were in a good spot. It just didn't happen today."

Heath has also played a rugged schedule. If it can get by Indian Valley again, it could face a regional final rematch with John Glenn, which prevailed 4-3 in 2021.

"We started surging about 10 days or two weeks ago, and we're not looking back," Cooksey said. "We're finally hitting our stride," Jardine said. "We just have to get production from all parts of our lineup."

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This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: This time, Heath gets the jump on Bloom-Carroll for district repeat