By John Bombatch
FAIRBORN — The host Fairborn Skyhawks took advantage of a rare call, and overcame plenty of obstacles along the way, in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over Greater Western Ohio Conference, South Division rival Xenia, a game that was played on Wright State University’s softball field.
With the game evened up at 2 apiece in the fifth inning and Fairborn’s Kelsie Coleman on first base, Megan George appeared to hit into a double play. She lined a soft shot right to Xenia pitcher Bailey Oliver who quickly fired to Buccaneers teammate Morgan McLain for what appeared to be a double play.
However, the home plate umpire ruled George had made contact with the ball while she was out of the batter’s box for an automatic out. That ended the play right there, and Coleman was allowed to get back on first.
Fairborn rode that sudden momentum shift to victory.
First, Kenzie Shaver singled to left to move Coleman up a base. Then, Taylor Rice drew a walk to load the bases. That enabled Bryanna McLean, the Skyhawks’ clean-up hitter, to wallop a 1-0 pitch into the left centerfield gap to clear the bases and give Fairborn the 5-2 lead.
“We came out and played well offensively and defensively today, which was good. Chloe Becraft is on her way to the hospital. We think she may have a concussion,” Fairborn coach Tiffany Smith said. “So luckily, we were able to overcome losing her. Megan George has never played shortstop and I put her there, so the team really overcame a lot of different things today.”
Becraft smacked a triple in the second inning, but she was thrown out at home plate soon afterward, when she tried to score on a wild pick-off attempt to third base. Xenia’s third baseman Kaitlin Wormsley picked up the errant throw in foul territory and gunned Becraft down at home, as the Fairborn junior catcher slid into home plate and collided with Xenia catcher Abigail Shinkle, who held onto the ball for the out.
Fairborn overcame chilly weather, occasional drizzle, Air Force cargo planes practicing maneuvers overhead, and a pair of shirtless, face-painted and rowdy Buccaneer fans as well.
The Skyhawks’ Jordan Wilson led Fairborn in hitting with a 3-for-3 day at the plate. She had two singles and a double, and drove in a run. McLean had her bases clearing three-RBI double, and freshman hurler Shaver limited Xenia to just three hits while striking out four and walking three.
Sydney Smith, Wormsley and Kerstin Norris had Xenia’s only hits, all in the two-run fourth inning. Wormsley scored from third on a wild pitch, and Smith came home on Abigail Shinkle’s groundout to third.
Xenia coach Joe Turner was visibly disappointed in the game’s outcome.
“They were just hitting the ball better than we were,” he said. “Even when we made contact, it wasn’t solid. … I will give a lot of credit to their third baseman (McLean). We hit a lot of hard shots her way and she was just a vacuum and cleaned everything up. They just out-hit us tonight. That’s all I can say to explain it.”
Both teams came out decked in bright pink T-shirts as part of Fairborn’s annual PINK OUT game for Cancer Awareness. Xenia’s shirts had their team logo, school name and the 2016 year; while the front of Fairborn’s shirts said “Catching Cancer Before It Hits Home.”
Fairborn (5-11, 3-6 GWOC South) ended a four-game losing streak with the win over the Buccaneers. Their next contests will be on Saturday when they’ll host Kettering Fairmont at Community Park for an 11 a.m., 1 p.m. doubleheader.
Xenia has now lost three straight and six of their last eight games to fall to 7-10 overall, 2-6 in the GWOC South. They have a make-up game at home with Miamisburg at 5 p.m. Friday.
“We get Fairborn at our place on May 2nd. I hope we’ll have a different outcome then,” Turner said.
John Bombatch can be reached at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.