LANCASTER – The road to the state finals continues for the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates, as the orange and black sailed around the Buckeye Trail Lady Warriors 12-2, Thursday evening in Lancaster, Ohio.
With the win, Wheelersburg advances to the regional finals.
“I keep saying it, we’ve got a team that if somebody is having an off night, we have someone who can step up,” Wheelersburg softball coach Teresa Ruby said. “I think that’s what makes this team special.”
The 10-run win by Wheelersburg came as a team effort as seven Lady Pirates recorded hits against the Lady Warriors.
“We saw some big hits by Raygan (Reyes) and then Kalle (Coleman) and she’s been doing that all season and Bre (Breanna Klaiber),” Ruby said. “Lexi Blair got it started if off for us and got us going in the inning we finally broke through. Again, it’s just a different player every night, it’s just nice.”
Blair started off the third inning, which saw Wheelersburg score the first runs of the contest. She reached safely from a single to right-center. Blair was advanced by the next batter, Taylor McQuay thanks to a sacrifice.
Two batters later, Raygan Reyes came up to the plate and sent the first pitch she saw over the left-center field fence for a two-run home run and giving Wheelersburg a 2-0 lead.
The Lady Pirates scored again the following inning, when Breanna Klaiber got in touch with her inner power-hitter and sent a Hannah Smith pitch over the center field fence, giving Wheelersburg a 3-0 lead as the game headed to the bottom of the fourth inning.
Buckeye Trail got its first baserunner in the bottom of the fourth after an error allowed Brooke Colvin to reach first safely. Colvin was then advanced to second from a sacrifice and then scored from an Alexis Wheeler double.
After four innings, Wheelersburg held a two-run lead over Buckeye Trail, 3-1.
The Lady Pirates added two more runs in the top of the fifth inning. With one out in the inning, Coleman reached on a double. Reyes came up right after and matched her performance from the third inning as the Wheelersburg senior hit another two-run home run.
Wheelersburg cut down Buckeye Trail in order in the bottom of the fifth and increased their lead to 5-1 as the game entered the sixth inning.
In the top of the sixth Wheelersburg went yard again as Coleman hit a two-out grand slam home run, electrifying the Wheelersburg faithful in attendance.
Buckeye Trail was again held scoreless in the bottom of the sixth inning, bringing the red-hot Wheelersburg bats back up to the plate in the top of the seventh inning with a 9-1 lead.
The Lady Pirates couldn’t be stopped again in the top of the seventh inning. Wheelersburg scored three more times, as Klaiber, Kasey Bergan and Laiken Salyers all crossed the plate to give the number one ranked softball team in the state a 12-1 lead over Buckeye Trail.
The Lady Warriors needed 11 runs and only had three outs to work with, which wouldn’t be enough as Wheelersburg held off Buckeye Trail in the bottom of the seventh inning allowing only one additional run to score.
Faith Howard recorded the last out of the game with a strikeout, ending Buckeye Trail’s season while advancing Wheelersburg to the regional finals.
“Buckeye Trail was a quality team,” Ruby said. “The score might not reflect that, but I think they are a good quality team.”
Howard picked up another win for Wheelersburg, pitching the entire game for the Lady Pirates. She gave allowed two runs, one earned, off five hits. The Wheelersburg junior walked one batter, while striking out eight Lady Warriors.
Howard was on-point with her change-up again Thursday evening, and placed her pitches well earning numerous called strikes on both sides of the plate. She has recorded 17 strikeouts in her last two games, averaging 8.5 punchouts in those games.
Smith got the start for Buckeye Trail. She pitched five and one-third innings allowing seven runs, all earned, from eight hits. She walked one batter and recorded four strikeouts.
Smith was the pitcher of record for the Lady Warriors getting the loss.
Jenni Carmichael pitched the last one and a third innings for Buckeye Trial. She allowed five Wheelersburg runs to score, with four being earned. She gave up three hits, including the grand slam home run to Coleman. Carmichael walked four Lady Pirates as well.
Wheelersburg’s offense came alive in the second half of the game against Buckeye Trial. The Lady Pirates finished the night with 11 hits which produced 12 runs.
Four Wheelersburg batters finished with two hits, Coleman, Reyes, Klaiber and Howard.
Bergan, Salyers and Blair all had one hit in the regional semifinal win.
Wheelersburg digs the long ball
The Lady Pirates showed off their power Thursday night in Lancaster. Wheelersburg had five home runs in their 12-2 rout of the Buckeye Trail Lady Warriors.
Reyes hit two two-run home runs in the game, which drove in four runs. Reyes sent a ball over the left-center fence in the third inning and another over center in the fifth.
Klaiber hit a solo shot in the fourth inning.
Coleman’s grand slam home run was gone as soon as it came off the bat, spending little time in the air as the Wheelersburg junior sent the Carmichael pitch into orbit over left-center field.
Wheelersburg advances to the round of eight in which they will play for an OHSAA Division III Region 11 Championship. The Lady Pirates will face-off against the Albany Alexander Lady Warriors Saturday at Lancaster High School. First pitch is set for Noon.
“We played them earlier in the year, but you know, we’re a half season past that,” Ruby said. “I told the girls don’t expect them to be the same team we plated earlier in the year.”
Ruby said her team will come up Saturday expecting a battle for a chance to advance to the state semifinals.
Reach Mihael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.