SOUTH AMHERST — This one will eat at the Buckeye softball team until it plays its final Patriot Athletic Conference game Saturday.
The sixth-seeded Bucks came into their LaGrange Division II Sectional final with third-seeded Firelands on Tuesday with nothing to lose, but fell 7-6 in eight innings on a walk-off double down the line by Lexy Coggins.
While the Falcons (16-4) were the favorites, the Bucks (15-11) very much could have won.
“Clare (Mewhinney) pitched her butt off,” Buckeye coach Howie Calame Jr. said. “What did she give up, three earned runs? We have a young team. I lose three seniors (Mewhinney, Nicole Figueroa and Angelica Beckett). Losing Clare is going to be tough. She pitched great. I can’t say enough about her.”
Up two in the first inning, the Bucks allowed Firelands to score four runs in the bottom half. Only one was earned.
Showing fight, Buckeye bounced back and eventually tied the game on a two-run single by Mewhinney in the sixth.
While Firelands’ Ashley Strauss (16-4) had 12 strikeouts, the Bucks had nine hits and five earned runs.
Buckeye even took the lead in the seventh and appeared headed for a date today against second-seeded Cloverleaf (20-8) at LaGrange Community Park.
Courtney Keeler opened with a single to center and was sacrificed to second by Ariana Whitmer, who reached on an error. A sacrifice bunt by Kylie Cooper put runners on second and third before a single from Beckett scored Keeler.
After that, things fell apart for the Bucks.
Firelands’ Emily Stewart opened the bottom of the inning with a routine grounder but reached on an error. Strauss flew out to center and Larren Rounds popped up to second for what would have been the final out.
The error loomed large when Delaney Overstreet doubled to left-center to score Stewart. Alaina Becker followed with a single, but Mewhinney induced Becky Parker into a groundout to force extra innings.
“This one is really tough, especially knowing that we had it,” Mewhinney said. “We played the best we have all season against them (Firelands beat the Bucks 9-5 and 9-0 in PAC Stars Division play).”
Buckeye threatened in the eighth inning with a one-out walk to Alyssa Beckett, but a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play followed.
Firelands used that momentum, as Tori Coggins opened the bottom of the inning with a walk. Abby Aslaksen followed with a perfect sacrifice to set the table for Lexy Coggins, who laced a double over the head of first baseman Figueroa.
“We never quit,” Lexy Coggins said. “We’re always up. We always fight. I love these girls. We’re always cheering each other on. We were down 2-0 the first inning and we scored four runs. We just kept going and didn’t stop. Even when they tied the game, we didn’t stop. We knew we had last ups and had to make it count.”
Firelands 7, Buckeye 6 (8 inn.)
BUCKEYE 200 012 10 — 6 9 2
FIRELANDS 400 100 11 — 7 9 4
One out when winning run scored. WP — Ashley Strauss (16-4) 8 innings, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts. LP — Clare Mewhinney (5-6) 7