NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Early in the season the South Amherst All-Stars were learning how to play the game. Thursday night they learned how to win it.
South Amherst (4-10) scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to complete a 6-5 comeback over Keystone Ahart in a Class B opening-round game at the Ohio Girls Softball Organization district tournament at Palmer Field.
Pitcher Paige Sexstella struck out 11 Keystone batters and helped her own cause when she singled and scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error.
“It’s been a tough season for us,” Sexstella said. “We had a lot of girls who didn’t get to play before this year, so early in the season we felt like teams were using us as a practice game. We’ve worked hard and we knew we needed to be serious if we were going to win.”
Holly Blankenship led South Amherst with three hits and Ann Torkelson, Tori Jackson and Sexstella each had two hits. Jackson’s seventh-inning single drove in the tying run.
“Me and my brother (Marvin) have a hit stick and we go outside whenever we can to mess around and practice,” Jackson said. “I’ve been able to increase my hitting speed and hit the ball farther.”
South Amherst took an early 3-0 lead only to see Keystone battle back to score one run in the fourth and four more in the fifth. Alexis Bower hit a home run and Ariana Ahart and Grace James each tripled for Keystone.
“I am ecstatic how this game turned out for us today. We had pitching, good defense and a lot of offense, too,” South Amherst coach Eric Sexstella said. “When we were down going into the seventh inning I told the girls to stay strong, stay positive and score some runs.”
South Amherst will play the Lorain Dirt Devils on Sunday at 6 p.m. The Dirt Devils won the regular-season meeting between the teams.
Coach Sexstella said his team is ready to turn the tables on their foes from Lorain.
“Retribution is a great motivational factor for the girls,” he said. “Retribution and, of course, ice cream.”
Grafton Nancy’s 9, Wellington Brothers 2
Grafton scored eight runs in the first three innings and was able to put it in cruise control the rest of the way as it advanced to play the South Amherst Thunder on Sunday at Wellington.
Mac Short led the way for Grafton tossing a three-hitter and striking out 10.
“I was throwing my fast ball and curve balls for strikes today,” Short said. “Once we scored so many runs it took the pressure off of me and I was able to just throw the ball and not worry. My defense helped me to get outs and backed me up, too.”
Catcher Kaylee Griffin led Grafton with two hits and scored a pair of runs.
“We were really confident. We were all hitting the ball in the first two or three innings and the other team was making mistakes and helping us, too,” Griffin said. “We were ready to play tonight. Even when it rains and we get a couple of days off we are always still ready to go. We will be ready to play on Sunday and I think we can win again.”
Nancy’s Main Street Diner and South Amherst Thunder were rained out in their only scheduled regular-season meeting.
“The girls came out ready to play the game today,” Grafton coach Chris West said. “We did what we had to do at the plate tonight. Early on their pitchers made some mistakes and we took advantage of that. That’s been a big part of what we’ve done this year. Mac has pitched fantastic all season and Kaylee behind the plate really takes control of the game and keeps Mac under control. They have worked really well as a team.”
The rains that washed away all but one game over the first three days of the event have forced tournament organizers to move the championship games that will originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon to Monday for Class A and Tuesday for Class B.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Columbia Vitamix 14,
Lorain XPlosion 9
Buckeye 4, Spencer Historical Society 0
South Amherst All-Stars 6, Keystone Ahart 5
Grafton Nancy’s Main Street Diner 9, Wellington Brothers Chevrolet 2
Sheffield Magic 10, Grafton Yates 9
Spencer Kostecki 15, Grafton Unicorns 8
South Amherst Synergy 19, North Ridgeville Lehoty’s Lady Rangers 9