WAVERLY — It was a slugfest at the plate, and a clean game in the infield, and in the end the smaller school got the better of the host bigger school.
That’s because the South Webster Jeeps scored a single run in the top of the eighth inning on Tuesday, and prevailed over the Waverly Tigers 6-5 in a Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball makeup matchup.
With the win, the Jeeps wrap up their SOC II campaign as the runner-up to league champion Wheelersburg — as South Webster went 13-3 in the division, and is now 17-7.
The Pirates swept the Jeeps, and South Webster lost 3-1 at West the very next day to split that season series.
Waverly, which went 10-5 in the league as its scheduled SOC II tilt against Waverly was canceled and not rescheduled, finishes its season at 12-10 — having lost to Logan Elm on Monday in a Division II sectional semifinal.
Against the Division II Tigers, smaller South Webster — which will host Miller on Thursday at 5 p.m. for a Division IV sectional championship — scored three runs in its opening at-bat, but the Tigers retaliated in the fourth for two runs and three more in the fifth for a 5-3 lead.
But the Jeeps then forged a 5-5 tie in the sixth, when Ashley Spence doubled and crossed on Lexie Smith’s double —and Smith advanced on Rease Hall’s single before stealing home.
In the eighth, Spence, Smith and Hall teamed up again —when Spence, Rylee McGraw, Smith, Hall and Skylar Zimmerman all singled, with Hall singling an an 0-1 pitch to drive in Spence for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run.
With South Webster leading 6-5 in the bottom of the eighth, Jeep ace pitcher and senior Gwen Messer retired the Tigers 1-2-3 to end the game —and Waverly’s season.
Messer, in going the distance and earning the pitching win, fired 103 pitches — as all five Waverly runs were earned.
She walked one and hit two with a pitch, but struck out five despite surrendering 13 hits.
The biggest Tigers’ hit was an Emma Bellaw two-run home run which made it 5-3 in the fifth.
Bellaw led the Tigers with three hits including a seventh-inning double, but Messer escaped additional damage by leaving the bases loaded.
Both teams left seven on base, including with two Tigers on in the sixth — after one was left stranded at second in the fourth.
South Webster went off for 16 hits off Waverly’s pitcher Campbell, including four by Hall and three apiece by Spence and Bella Claxon.
In the opening inning, the Jeeps went up 3-0 on Campbell’s three walks for the game —leadoff free passes to Zimmerman, Bri Claxon and Emma Bailey, before Bella Claxon doubled home her sister and Spence’s single scored both Bailey and Bella Claxon.
Spence scored twice and drove in two runs.
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