BUCYRUS — At the end of an emotionally draining week, Keystone’s softball season came to an emotional end Thursday afternoon.
Maumee, a team with nine regular-season losses, pinned a 4-1 defeat on the second-ranked Wildcats in a Division II regional semifinal delayed 22 hours by rain.
In the course of their final game, the Wildcats (27-4) managed just one hit off Maumee’s Sam Fowls. They were hitless until right fielder Sammie Stefan drove shortstop Summer Constable home with a two-out single in the sixth inning.
Uncharacteristically, the Wildcats hit the ball out of the infield only five times. And the first one to the outfield was a routine fly by catcher Liz Hayes with one out in the fifth inning.
It’s understandable if their attention wasn’t entirely on softball.
The team lost a popular friend, and its five seniors a classmate, with the death of Logan Stiner on Tuesday. In his memory, the team wore purple heart-shaped stickers on their uniforms bearing the initials LS.
Keystone also had to deal with an injury to sophomore third baseman Destiny Weber, who ran into the fence near the Keystone dugout chasing a foul fly ball in the seventh inning.
The game was delayed by more than 20 minutes while she was tended to by coaches, trainers and emergency medical technicians. She was placed on a gurney and taken by ambulance to Avita Health System Bucyrus Hospital. A hospital spokesman said Thursday night that Weber had been released.
“We needed to play for her and Logan too,” said senior catcher Nicole Neri. “Destiny is a key part of this team and it hurt. But we knew we had to fight without her and we thought we could do it.
“We had a good season and we all had heart,” said Neri, who will play softball next season at Concordia College in Athens, W.Va. “That took us far. I know (the underclassmen) are going to continue this tradition after we’re gone.”
Wildcats coach Jim Piazza was disappointed, but philosophical.
“I can’t say enough about these kids,” he said. “After the week they have gone through, to keep playing the way that they have … they came here today with heavy hearts. They tried to fight through it and they tried to do everything they possibly could. I told them, ‘Logan’s going to be proud of your efforts.’ But they’re emotional wrecks.”
Stefan, a freshman, was the only Keystone player to reach base twice. She walked with two out in the first inning and was the Wildcats’ only runner until another freshman, McKenah Peters, walked with two outs in the fifth.
Meantime, Keystone batters were retired on infield popups four times, thrown out by infielders six times and struck out six times. That exercise in futility was engineered by Fowls.
“All my pitches were working,” Fowls said. “I have a fastball, curve, change, riseball and screwball.”
Fowls’ bat also worked. Keystone retired her only once in four plate appearances. And with the Wildcats within striking distance at 2-1 in the seventh inning, she launched an exasperating two-out, two-run homer over the 202-foot sign in center field to ice it.
Maumee (19-9) earned a spot in the regional final at noon Saturday on the same diamond. The Panthers will face fifth-ranked Lima Bath, the team that knocked them out of the district tournament last season.
“When we played Lima Bath last season, we had seven girls who had graduated that morning,” Maumee coach Shawn Watson said. “We haven’t been to regionals since 2000, so we’re trying to build the program back up.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.