By CODY LEIST
PDT Sports Writer
MINFORD — It was a slow start offensively to start the season for Jen Arnzen.
That was then, this is now. The junior right fielder hit a grand slam off the first pitch she was thrown in the first inning of Tuesday’s Division IV Southeast District softball semifinal and gave No. 4 Notre Dame a lead the Lady Titans would not relinquish in a 7-4 win over No. 1 Reedsville Eastern at Minford High School.
“Big J is swinging the bat well at the right time,” Notre Dame coach J.D. McKenzie said.
Arnzen was 1-for-2 on the day as she was hit by a pitch in the third and walked in the fifth. She is 3-for-4 with six runs batted in during the two tournament games.
The cushion was enough for the pitching combination of Tori Harr and Miranda Pauley to shut down the bats of the Lady Eagles. Harr allowed four runs (one earned), struck out five, walked one and allowed seven runs in 4 and 1/3 innings to improve her record to 6-3 on the year.
McKenzie said he wanted to start with Harr and her off-speed pitches before coming with the hard-throwing Pauley to keep Eastern off balance. The only thing that concerned McKenzie his team’s five errors.
“Our defense has got to play better behind them,” McKenzie said.
The Lady Eagles scored single runs in the second and third to cut the deficit in half. The Lady Titans added two insurance runs in the fourth when Katie Stevenson’s single knocked in Pauley and Katie Kayser but Stevenson was thrown out when she tried to advance to second after the throw to home.
Despite causing the out, Stevenson still had a productive 2-for-4 day with the two RBIs and a double.
“She’s going to put the ball in play about every time,” McKenzie said.
Eastern cut the lead down to two again in the bottom of the fifth before Pauley replaced Harr within the circle. Pauley started the top of the sixth with a double and was replaced by courtesy runner Katherine Binns before Brooke Pierron’s single drove her in and finished the scoring.
Notre Dame advances to Saturday’s district final against No. 3 Waterford, which defeated No. 10 Whiteoak 5-0 in the second semifinal of the day. The Lady Titans want to make it to their second regional tournament in as many years but know the road is not easy.
“You’re not here by luck,” McKenzie said.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or email@example.com.
Notre Dame 4 0 0 2 0 1 0 — 7 7 5
Reedsville Eastern 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 — 4 9 2
Notre Dame —Stevenson 2-4 (2B, 2 RBI), Phillips 1-4 (SB, R), Marting 0-3 (BB, R), Harr 0-3 (BB), Arnzen 1-2 (HR, BB, HBP, 4 RBI, R), Pauley 2-3 (2B, SB, R), Kayser 0-2 (BB, R), Pierron 1-3 (RBI), Bins 0-0 (2 R).
Eastern —Gillian 1-4 (R), Johnson 0-3 (SAC, BB, R), Holter 1-4, Gable 2-4 (2 R), Parker 0-3 (SAC), Osborne 1-4 (2B, RBI), Cline 1-4, Moodaspaugh 2-3, Edwards 1-3 (2B).
W —Harr (6-3)
L —Edwards (10-3)
Records — Notre Dame 17-7; Eastern 20-6.