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Wednesday, May 16th, 2007
By Gary R. Rasberry
Cavs win Mercer County showdown
ELIDA - After losing a share of the Midwest Athletic Conference softball title to Coldwater on Friday, Parkway was looking to try and get the last laugh by eliminating the Cavaliers from the tournament.
Coldwater, though, got solid pitching from Brooke Gross and two big scoring innings late in the game to give the Cavaliers a 5-1 win at the Division III district semifinal at Dorothy Edwards Field in Elida.
The Cavaliers (19-6) will play for a district title - the first trip to the district finals since 2002 - on Thursday on the other side of Lima at Bath High School at 5 p.m. The Cavaliers will play the winner of Archbold and Evergreen, whose game was suspended in the top of the sixth with a 4-all tie due to lightning. The game will be finished today at 5 p.m.
The game was a battle to the end, with Coldwater jumping out early before Parkway tied things up. Coldwater took the lead for good in the fifth and added insurance in the sixth. It was a completely different outcome than last Friday's game, a 10-0 run-rule win at Coldwater.
"I didn't expect that," said Coldwater coach Jeff Kerr, referring to a possible repeat of Friday. "We knew their pitcher coming in (Chelsie O'Neill, who did not start Friday and pitched just one inning) threw pretty well. We were hoping to get her timed up early and hit the ball early. We really didn't time her up early."
The Cavaliers, however, did get the lead in the bottom of the first. Tasha Stucke, the area's top batter, singled and went to second on Brooke Gross' sacrifice. After a fly out, Tiffany Uhlenhake singled to center to score Stucke for the early lead.
Gross, the ace on the hill for the Cavs, worked her way through the Panther lineup, having just one big scoring threat early in the second when with one out, Jamie Guggenbiller and Hannah Beougher made it to third and second, respectively. Gross buckled down, striking out Theah Bourelle and Tiffany Baltzell to end the threat.
Parkway finally squared the game in the top of the fourth. Danielle Schoenleben led off with a bloop single to center. After Jan Boroff bunted the runner up a base, Beogher came up with the shot to center that scored Schoenleben tying the game.
O'Neill, after giving up the run in the first, worked the next three innings with efficiency, allowing just one hit.
"I thought Chelsie pitched a heckuva game," said Panther coach Mark Esselstein. "She had them off-balance. They weren't hitting the ball hard for the most part."
Things changed in the bottom of the fifth. Hannah Selhorst reached first on an error to start the inning. Stucke, 2-for-2 with a double already, chose to bunt the runner up for the sacrifice. O'Neill looked to be out of the woods after striking out Gross for the second out, but Paula Howell singled in pinch-runner Cayla Wood to break the deadlock. Uhlenhake followed with a single to put runners on first and third before Katie Muhlenkamp brought Howell in with a third-straight single to make it 3-1.
Insurance came in the sixth after Parkway got the first two batters out. Selhorst singled to start the rally and Stucke followed with a double to put runners on second and third for Gross.
Gross then lined a shot that shortstop Elaine Crowell could not handle, allowing Selhorst and Stucke to score before Gross was tagged out at second to end the inning.
"When (Parkway) had that timeout (before Gross batted), we had a talk at third base and she said to Tasha 'Don't worry. I'll hit you in.'," said Kerr. "It wasn't being cocky, it was confidence, I guess."
Gross was in control for a second straight game against Parkway, not yielding a walk and striking out six in the five-hitter.
"I knew going into Friday's game we were throwing Brooke because we wanted to share the MAC and that we were going to throw her today," said Kerr. "She's a tough kid who can come back.
"Our outfielders played a heckuva game in this wind. I know Hannah made a heckuva catch (in right)."
"We had some chances early and didn't capitalize," said Esselstein. "We didn't get good at-bats when we really needed some to get some runs early. We hit a lot of balls hard. They made some good plays on them."
Stucke went 3-for-3 with two runs scored for the Cavaliers while Uhlenhake went 2-for-3 with a RBI.
Beougher paced the Parkway attack with a 2-for-3 day, driving in the lone Panther run.
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