PICKERINGTON – Notre Dame fell Wednesday to Peebles 2-0 in a Division IV regional semifinal on the campus of Pickerington Central High School. This loss comes after the Titans defeated Waterford 4-1 at the University of Rio Grande Saturday for the program’s first district softball title since 2014.
“By our stats, both their runs are unearned,” said Notre Dame head coach J.D. McKenzie following the season-ending loss. “Like I said earlier in the week, the team that plays cleaner is going to win the game, and we had a couple of errors that hurt us. We had runners in scoring position all night, we just couldn’t get that hit to get one across.”
The box score for this game is more revealing than your typical box score. Notre Dame junior ace Cassie Schaefer allowed just two hits and one walk during her six innings of work. But, the two Notre Dame errors in Wednesday’s game helped score both Peebles runs: a runner reaching safely in the first and a runner reaching safely in the fifth thanks to two fielding errors.
But, the fact of the matter is is that Notre Dame had a lot of opportunities to produce runs. In every inning but the sixth inning, Notre Dame left runners stranded on base and in three of those innings, runners were left stranded in scoring position.
Schaefer knows this fact better than anyone. After absolutely smoking the ball during the regular season, the junior went into somewhat of a slump at the plate during the postseason. With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the seventh, Schaefer flew out to left field, ending the Titans scoring threat while finishing 0/4, and thus the game.
But after going through her insane hot streak during the regular season and with her senior season approaching next year, McKenzie is sure this game will be used as nothing but motivation for her to push this Titans team to their full potential.
“Knowing Cassie, she’s going to put the work in,” McKenzie said. “Pitching wise, she took a step up this year and I expect the same thing next year. Hitting wise, she’s going to put the time in to help get herself fixed. She’s going to work on those things she’s struggling with. It’s such a mental game, once things get in your head, it’s tough to recover. But she pitched great, gave up only one hard hit ball all game. She’ll be alright.”
Claire Dettwiller and Isabel Cassidy both led the Titans at the plate Wednesday by going 3/4. Maddy Suter finished 2/3 at the plate and senior Baylee Webb finished 1/3 at the plate in her last game in a Notre Dame uniform.
Notre Dame will lose Clara Hash and Baylee Webb to graduation this offseason. As players and leaders, McKenzie acknowledged how much the’ve meant to all Notre Dame sports throughout their careers.
“Baylee and Clara in this sport, and our seniors in all our sports, it’s been a great class with great leadership. Clara coming out and did a tremendous job playing right field for us. Baylee battling injuries her whole career and being able to come back at the end of this year when a lot of kids wouldn’t. You hate to lose them, but man what a career they’ve had in all of their sports.”
With Webb and Hash departing for graduation, Notre Dame returns eight fielders and eight batters from their lineup this season to next year’s team. To say that McKenzie expects them to be right back in the same position a year from now if they put the work in that’s expected would likely be an understatement.
“I think it’s just going to take another step up,” McKenzie said. “I don’t think anyone expected us to be where we were last year. This year we took another step up. With all these girls, it’s their expectations that motivate them. They expect to win, they expect to play in these regional type games. That sets up well for our girls behind them to follow what they’ve accomplished. I think good things are on the horizon.”
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