LaGRANGE TWP. — Clearview looked for that timely base hit Thursday.
It never came.
The Clippers wanted that clutch third out to end a scoring threat.
Twice they came up empty.
As a result, second-seeded Clearview lost 4-2 to sixth-seeded Buckeye in a Division II district semifinal. The Clippers were trying to reach the final for the second straight year.
The win not only pushed the Bucks (12-11) into a championship game with top-seeded Keystone (26-3), it avenged an 11-9 loss to the Clippers (16-10) that started the season.
The Wildcats, who beat fourth-seeded Cloverleaf 7-5 in the other semifinal, have won district titles 12 of the last 13 seasons.
“I know from personal experience (revenge) is a big motivator,” Clearview pitcher Sarah Kaya said. “In the end, they had a little more intensity and timely hits and we didn’t. That’s always tough.”
Timely hitting was the Achilles’ heel for the Clippers, who were making their third straight district semifinal appearance.
Clearview was able to get runners on, but stranded nine and finished 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
None of the missed opportunities hurt worse than in the third inning when it faced a one-run deficit but loaded the bases to start the bottom of the inning.
Maggie Calame (6-2) got Sarah Stambol to fly to center before striking out Kirsten Teleha and forcing out Niki Roush to end the threat.
In the sixth, the Clippers once again had a runner on third with no one out, but couldn’t put a run on the board.
“We had our chances,” Clearview coach Denny Myers said. “Give Buckeye credit. They made the plays when they needed to and got the big hits. We just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it. We had bases loaded with no one out and couldn’t get anyone in. That’s part of the game.”
The one person the Clippers had trouble figuring out was Chrissy Nichols.
The Buckeye senior had a two-out, two-run single in the third inning off Kaya (16-8) to put the Bucks ahead and added a two-out, two-run home run to right-center field in the seventh in what ultimately became the winner.
For good measure, Nichols came on in relief of Maggie Calame (6-2) to pick up her third save of the season in a three-inning, three-hit, three-strikeout performance in which she gave up one earned run.
Clearview had its chances in the seventh inning when it plated a run on a Teleha single, but struck out after that to end its postseason dreams.
“It hurts for the seniors,” Myers said. “(Buckeye coach Howie Calame) always has them well-prepared. We knew it would be a battle.”
The battle isn’t over for the Clippers. Should Clearview beat Brooklyn next week and Columbia lose to Wellington, it would gain a share of the Stripes Division.
That, plus another strong season, has Clearview thinking big things for the future despite losing seven players to graduation.
“In the future, the underclassmen and the juniors will remember that if you work hard and as a unit, you can go far,” said Kaya, who is one of the outgoing seniors. “You can make it to districts and regionals. It’s all possible.”
Contact Brad Bournival at 329-7135 or email@example.com.