By John Bombatch
LEBANON — After exciting wins over Greater Catholic League Coed schools Dayton Chaminade Julienne and Kettering Alter earlier in the tournament, the young upstarts of the Bellbrook Golden Eagles softball team (8-16) met a buzzsaw on Tuesday in the Division II sectional championship game.
Undefeated Clarksville Clinton-Massie (now 24-0) showed why they’re ranked no. 9 in the latest Ohio High School Softball Coaches poll. They dominated Bellbrook for a 14-0 run-ruled win in five innings, at Lebanon Middle School.
Fifth-seeded Bellbrook claimed a 7-6 win over no. 13 seed Alter on May 11, then edged no.8 seeded CJ, 10-9, the next day. And when the Golden Eagles limited Clinton-Massie to one run in the opening inning of play, it looked as if Bellbrook would be able to stay with the Falcons.
Clinton-Massie bashed nine hits and sent 14 batters to the plate in the second inning to jump out in front 10-0. The Falcons tacked on another run in the third, then three more in the fourth in the five-inning run-ruled victory.
“Their pitcher was definitely on it today. Offensively, they came out to hit. We were throwing everything we could at them and … they just hit it,” said Bellbrook coach Jacki Tipton.
Falcons ace starting pitcher Taylor Florea held Bellbrook to three hits in her four innings of work and struckout four Golden Eagles. Claire Carruthers pitched the fifth inning and gave up a hit while fanning two more Eagles.
Offensively, Florea was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI, Taylor Flanigan was also 3-for-3 and drove in three runs, Ashlie Miller had a couple hits, scored once and drove in a run, and Caitlin Robinson clouted a line drive over the right field fence for a two-run home run. Robinson later whapped a single to score two more Falcons runs. Hailey Clayborn had two hits, Kelsey Carter reached base four times in four at-bats, scored thrice, singled and doubled.
In all, Clinton-Massie had 17 hits in four innings of offense.
“That was a good game for us,” Clinton-Massie coach Anthony Lauer said. “We hit the ball well, we play good defense and we pitch the ball well. For the past week or so, our hitting had been off a little bit. But that’s how we play right there. That’s how we hit.”
Sophomore Tatyana Apanasewicz had half of the Golden Eagle hits, including a double to left that nearly went over the fence in the fourth. Freshman Sami Seubert and soph Chelsea Cozad had the other two Bellbrook hits. Senior Nicole Licher got on base twice in her three at-bats with walks.
“We’re losing a huge offensive threat and a solid pitcher in Nicole Licher. And Anna Starkey is defensively one of the most solid second basemen we’ve had, and she can bunt like crazy,” Tipton said. “She’d been fighting a back injury all season and it really limited her play.”
On the bright side, everybody else should be back next season. Add to that a promising soon-to-be freshman group and Tipton likes what’s ahead for her Purple and Gold bunch.
“We have 11 underclassmen and an amazing class coming in. They took their losses this season, but they learned from it. This is going to be a team that will come back ready to play for the next few years,” Tipton said.
Clinton-Massie will play Hamilton Ross next, at noon May 21 at Mason High School.
John Bombatch can be reached at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.