Behind timely hitting, stellar pitching and defense, Oak Harbor softball won its first sectional title in five years with a 4-1 victory over Huron.
The victory is symbolic of how far the program has come in three years under coach Chris Rawski. From 9-19 to 19-9 and now 18-11 and a sectional title, Oak Harbor is headed in the right direction.
The win over Huron was a prime example of the Rockets' executing in the clutch, both at the plate and on the base paths, while getting great pitching.
|Oak Harbor batter Kimmi Wahlers lays down a bunt.
(Press photo by Russ Lytle)
Oak Harbor, which had struggled at times in both previous matches against the Tigers, scored the game's first run in the bottom of the first inning when senior Theresa Stokes drove in Emma Bergman with a base hit up the middle. The run, like three of the Rockets' four runs, came with two outs and two strikes on the hitter.
Bergman, who had two RBIs in the second inning to help stake the Rockets to a 3-0 lead, pitched a fine game, allowing one run on four hits in seven innings. She struck out four and did not walk a batter.
In addition to its clutch hitting and stellar pitching, Oak Harbor was aggressive on the base paths, stealing seven bases in nine attempts, something they've done for much of the season in an attempt to manufacture runs. In fact, the Rockets' fourth run was scored by Tessa Tyburski, who stole second and third base before scoring a wild throw to third.
"If you want to win in the tournament," Rawski said, "you've got to be tough in two-strike spots, two-outs spots, catching the ball with two outs and making pitches with two strikes because nothing comes free. We were very aggressive on the base baths just trying to buy a run and do something. I think that's a big reason why we scored four runs. It's something we've done all season. We like to be aggressive on the base paths."
To help the defensive effort, right fielder Emma Vidal made two difficult catches in key situations.
Oak Harbor's season ended a few days later when the Rockets fell, 2-1, to Bucyrus (21-5) in the district semifinals. The loss resulted from Lady Red pitcher Taylor Rossman’s walk-off home run to left field in the bottom of the seventh that barely cleared the fence.
Rawski said the district final was a microcosm for the grittiness, desire and toughness displayed by the Rockets for the duration of the season.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first, Oak Harbor, which finished with just three hits, scored it’s only run in the fourth on a wild sequence of events. Bergman, who led off the inning with a single, stole second and third to get herself in scoring position. A wild pitch, which was quickly recovered by the catcher, resulted in Bergman getting caught in-between third and home, only to see the catcher throw the ball away, allowing the Oak Harbor freshman to score and tie the game.