WELLINGTON — Columbia’s Emily Viccarone provided the one-two punch that knocked the Raiders into the district tournament Monday.
Viccarone hit a bases-loaded triple in the fifth inning, then drove in Emma Sullivan with the winning run in the seventh as Columbia defeated Wellington 7-6 in a Division III sectional final at Wellington Community Park.
Viccarone’s two-hit, four-RBI game highlighted a 14-hit attack for the Raiders, who improved to 14-9.
“I was nervous when I came up in the fifth, but I got a pitch right down the middle of the plate and it felt really good when it came off the bat,” said Viccarone, a senior designated player.
Her triple capped a five-run fifth inning in which Columbia sent nine batters to the plate.
An inning earlier it looked like Wellington was on the brink of breaking the game wide open. The Dukes had a 5-1 lead, the bases loaded with no outs and power-hitting pitcher Olivia Wulfhoop at the plate.
Columbia coach Ken Richardson summoned sophomore pitcher Amanda Sedlock off the bench to replace starter Kailey Minarchick. Sedlock got Wulfhoop to pop up to the third baseman and retired the next two hitters on ground balls to keep her team in the game.
The Dukes (16-10) tied the game at 6 in the bottom of the fifth when Erin Reisinger came home on a passed ball after hitting a one-out single to center field. Reisinger finished the day 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three runs scored.
“Erin had an outstanding game both at the plate and at third base. It was nice to see her really come through for us today,” Wellington coach Tim Wulfhoop said.
Junior Christine Lyzen took over as Columbia’s third pitcher of the day when she moved from first base to the pitching circle in the sixth inning. She retired six of the seven batters she faced to record her sixth win. Lyzen was Columbia’s top pitcher at the beginning of the year before injuries forced her to reduce her workload.
“I have a number of girls who have pitched for me in different roles this season,” Richardson said. “And the best part is they don’t ask questions or complain, they just come in whenever I need them.
“That wasn’t a tradition type of fastpitch softball game today bringing in three pitchers, but they have all been battling injuries and I really don’t have one who can just go seven innings right now.”
Columbia scored first in the first inning on an RBI single from Minarchick. The Dukes answered with three of their own, with Reisinger and Megan Brasee each driving in a run.
“I felt pretty good when we had a 5-1 lead but (Columbia) just hit the ball hard and put together a big inning,” Coach Wulfhoop said. “I still felt good about our chances going into the seventh with the middle of the order coming up. I knew they would throw Christine at us if they got the lead and she did a good job of shutting us down.”
Although she knew it was pressure-packed situation coming in with the game on the line, Lyzen said she was excited to have the chance to pitch.
“I felt really good. I knew it would take a big-time effort,” she said. “I knew I had to make sure I didn’t put runners on base and that my defense would work behind me.”
Columbia will play Independence on Wednesday at North Ridgeville in the district semifinals. The Blue Devils won the first meeting between the teams in March.
“I’m proud of what these girls have done this season,” Richardson said. “I told them this week will cap off the season. Today was a great win, but now we still have a lot of work to do if we want to keep winning.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.