Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Flyers earn dramatic win
By Randy Bruns
ST. HENRY - They waited all game to do it, but the Marion Local softball team proved an old baseball adage to be true during Wednesday night's Division IV sectional final: Chicks dig the long ball.
The Flyers got back-to-back home runs from Megan Wendel and Kristi Moorman in the top of the seventh to cap a dramatic 9-7 come-from-behind victory over New Bremen.
Marion Local (12-14) advances to Tuesday's 5 p.m. district semifinal at Wapakoneta against the Lima Perry Commodores.
The Cardinals (14-9) pounced on the Flyers in the early innings. Rachel Parker and Julie Brown sandwiched singles around a walk to Caitlyn Everhart to load the bases with one out in the bottom of the first. Chelsea Russell then followed with a single that scored Parker before Everhart came around to score on an errant throw. Brown later crossed the plate after another Flyers' error, and the Cardinals held a quick 3-0 lead.
Everhart belted a solo homer in the second before Russell and Meagan Brandt each tallied RBI hits in the third to give New Bremen a 6-2 advantage.
The Flyers slowly chipped away with one run in each of the next three innings, but they needed a crooked number to put them over the top.
With her team down 6-5 in the top of the seventh, Wendel lined a shot to centerfield that clipped the top of the fence and bounced over to tie the score. Moorman then stepped to the plate and lofted a shot to the same spot, but this one got a boost from the stiff west wind and easily cleared the wall to give the Flyers their first lead of the night at 7-6.
The Flyers were looking for insurance, though, and they didn't waste time in cashing in. After an error by the Cardinals and a sacrifice bunt by Heather Mescher, Brandi Rethman smacked an RBI single and went to second on the throw home. Brianna Bragg then lashed a single of her own to score Rethman and give the Flyers a 9-6 lead.
"New Bremen isn't an easy team to score runs against because they play good defense," said Marion Local coach Russ Puthoff. "We just kept ticking away at them and telling the girls that we'll have a big inning. Then Megan Wendel, who had been struggling most of the evening, stepped up and put one over the fence and it was a great shot in the arm, especially when Kristi walked up and did the same thing."
Marion Local wasn't out of the woods yet, though. New Bremen started the bottom of the seventh with a walk and a single to put runners on first and third, but Marion Local's defense quickly came to the rescue. Catcher Katie Elking pounced on a squibber in front of the plate and fired to first for one out, and Moorman threw a dart back to Elking to get the lead runner at home. The Cardinals did pull to within two runs after a passed ball, but Moorman snared a pop-up to end the game.
The difference in the game was defense. The Flyers turned three double plays over the last four innings to short-circuit rallies, while the Cardinals committed six errors that led to five unearned runs for the Flyers.
"We talked in pre-game about how the team that makes fewer mistakes will move on," said New Bremen coach Craig Griesdorn. "We knew (Marion) could hit it and we just had to make plays. Things just didn't go our way. The last six games we played very well defensively but tonight we made some mistakes and (Marion) took advantage of it, so give them credit."
Taylor Homan picked up the win for the Flyers after coming on to pitch in relief of Allison Rosenbeck during the third inning. The sophomore held the Cardinals to just one unearned run in her 4 1/3 innings while surrendering just one walk with one strikeout.
Wendel, Moorman, and Rethman paced the Flyers with three hits apiece while Alyssa Ruhenkamp scored three runs in her role as a courtesy runner for the Flyers' pitchers. Russell paced the Cardinals with three hits and a pair of RBI.