BUCYRUS — There were no more come-from-behind wins or history-making moments for Firelands, just the cold hard realization that 762 schools play softball in Ohio and all but four will lose their final game.
On Thursday, the Falcons became one of the 758 teams when they fell 11-0 to Granville in the Division II regional semifinals at Bucyrus High School.
Although not much went right for Firelands (18-12) against the Blue Aces, pitcher Samantha Dostall was not about to let the season be defined by the final game.
“Winning districts and making school history is something I am going to remember for the rest of my life,” said Dostall, who will attend Baldwin Wallace next year. “I don’t know what happened today. We didn’t come out and play the way we played all season. I didn’t pitch my best game. We just didn’t have it today.”
Granville will play Mansfield Madison on Saturday in the regional final.
The Falcons’ offensive woes — their only hit was a sixth-inning single by Samantha Hribal — were thanks in large part to the pitching of Blue Aces sophomore Abby Barker, who struck out eight and retired the first 12 batters while leading Granville to its 16th straight win and first regional final.
“We knew (Firelands) was a good team but we came in with a lot of confidence today,” Barker said. “Once we got the lead I was able to relax and work all of my pitches.”
Granville (23-6) scored three times in the first inning thanks to a pair of singles and a fielding error. The error was a sign of things to come for Firelands, whose five errors led to eight unearned runs for the Blue Aces.
“I think there were some nerves before the game,” Falcons coach Judy Dostall said. “After all, we’ve never been in this situation before. I think we made more errors today then we have in the past three weeks. But it all came down to one thing, you’ve got to hit the ball and score runs if you are going to win. Nothing else matters if you can’t score.”
Olivia Simon and Sarah Imhoff each had four hits for Granville, which like Firelands had only one senior in its starting lineup.
The Blue Aces added another run in the fourth, then broke the game open with four runs in the sixth and three in the seventh — all of which were unearned.
“Barker had a good drop ball and curveball so I wanted to try to sit back and try to drive the first pitch of the at-bat,” Hribal said of the Falcons’ lone hit.
Coach Dostall, who is stepping down after nine seasons, said nothing could diminish what the team had accomplished this season.
“After the game I told the girls there is no reason to walk off this field with your heads down … we made school history this year,” she said. “We had an amazing run and it’s sad for the seniors who won’t be back next season, but for everyone else on this team they have something to shoot for next year.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.