YORK TWP. — Veteran Bay pitcher Michaela Sindelar faced the minimum nine batters through three innings, but Buckeye’s softball team was not concerned.
The fun-loving, sixth-seeded Bucks just needed one momentum shift Tuesday in the LaGrange Division II Sectional semifinal, and Ariana Whitmer provided it in the fourth.
The right fielder’s two-out, two-run single — combined with a stellar outing from Clare Mewhinney and slick fielding from multiple players — led to an impressive 5-0 victory over the 11th-seeded Rockets.
Buckeye (14-10), which has all but clinched consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2005, advanced to play at third-seeded Firelands today.
“I feel great,” Whitmer said. “We worked as a team and won. We all worked together. We thought if we kept working hard — we weren’t letting them score — we’d get our bats going.”
Subtract a five-run fourth and Sindelar scattered three hits, walked none and struck out one. However, the Bucks used four singles, a double and two walks in the all-important inning to seize control against the Rockets (3-11), a future Great Lakes Conference opponent.
Buckeye appeared on the verge of wasting a two-on, one-out situation after an infield pop-up. Whitmer then went down 0-2 but smacked a ball that bounced over rangy shortstop Brooke Brewer’s outstretched glove and scored Alyssa Beckett and Mewhinney.
Kylie Cooper followed with an RBI single off Sindelar’s shin, while Angelica Beckett provided the insurance with a two-run single up the middle as Buckeye scored five runs during an 11-pitch stretch.
“I was thinking I could do it,” Whitmer said. “I was confident in myself and my team was cheering me on. It brought everyone’s energy up.”
Mewhinney and the defense took care of the rest.
The right-handed Walsh recruit used her usual mix of dropballs and outside curveballs — “Sometimes they don’t work, but that’s OK,” she joked — to finish with a five-hitter. One of three seniors on the roster, Mewhinney walked two, struck out three and stranded runners in scoring position in the first, second, fifth and sixth.
The defense was more stellar than three errors indicate. Catcher Kaydee Clark made a sliding, over-the-shoulder catch inches before the backstop and shortstop Courtney Keeler snared a line drive on her knees on back-to-back plays in the sixth, while Mewhinney, Alyssa Beckett and Nicole Figueroa turned a 1-4-3 double play in the seventh.
“My defense is always there for me. I can always count on them,” Mewhinney said. “They may make a few mistakes sometimes, but I always know they’re going to make the next play.”
Buckeye 5, Bay 0
BAY 000 000 0 — 0 5 0
BUCKEYE 000 500 x — 5 8 3
WP — Clare Mewhinney (4-5) 7 innings, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts. LP — Michaela Sindelar 6 innings, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, strikeout. Bay (3-11) — Kylie Astronskas double. Buckeye (14-10) — Mewhinney 2 singles, run; Ariana Whitmer single, 2 RBIs, run; Kylie Cooper 2 singles, RBI, run; Angelica Beckett single, 2 RBIs; Madison Ross double.