CLAYTON – For five innings Arcanum played tight with Northwestern, but the Warriors broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth to run rule the Trojans 12-2.
Entering the bottom of the sixth inning of Monday’s Ohio High School Athletic Association sectional championship game, Arcanum only trailed 5-2. But in the sixth Northwestern scored seven runs and ended the Trojans’ season.
“Proud of them,” Arcanum softball coach Rick Stone said of his team’s play. They played their hearts out.
“We’re right there with them until the sixth inning, and then everything just fell apart on us.”
One of the deciding factors in Monday’s game was the long ball as Northwestern hit three home runs and Arcanum hit one.
The game’s first homer came in the bottom of the first when Northwestern’s Bry White jacked one over the left field wall to put the Warriors up 1-0.
Arcanum quickly responded as Shai Robinson led off the top half of the second inning with a home run over the left field wall, knotting the score at 1-1.
Robinson, who hadn’t played softball in five years, ended up with six home runs this season. That’s the second most a Lady Trojan has ever hit in a season, only trailing teammate Brittany Kinney who set the program’s single season record this year.
“I begged her and begged her to play,” Stone said of Robinson “Volleyball is her thing, and she’s going to college for it. She told me this year, ‘Hey, I’m going to go ahead and come out and play.’ And she’s had a phenomenal season, phenomenal season.”
Later in the inning Arcanum scored again to take its first lead of the day. After a single by Kaitlyn Zell and a walk to Hannah Weaver, Northwestern committed an error on a Kaylee Wilcox pop-up that allowed Zell to score and put the Trojans up 2-1.
Northwestern was able to regain the lead in the third inning with the game’s third home run. After back-to-back singles by Jamie Rutherford and White, Jenna Robbins hit a three-run home run to left-center to give the Warriors a 4-2 lead.
“About K’ed her twice there on changeups,” Stone said. “She just barely got a piece of it, and she was able to get ahold of one and took the lead on us.”
In the fifth inning Northwestern scored again to make it a 5-2 game. Following back-to-back two-out walks to Robbins and Abby Zerkle, Maddie Current got an infield single to load the bases. Miranda Gillman then drove a RBI single into left before Arcanum was able to get out of the inning with a strikeout.
McKenzie Sharritts collected her second hit of the night in the top half of the sixth inning, but she was stranded for a second time.
“All the talk was about this pitcher coming in, and she is good, but we put the bat on the ball against her night,” Stone said.
In the bottom half of the inning Northwestern caught fire offensively.
Rachel Martin and Rutherford singled then Macie Crew walked to load the bases with one out. Robbins, who already had a double and a home run, hit a two-run single to increase the Northwestern lead to 7-2.
Zerkle then drove in a run to make it 8-2, and Current cleared the bases with a three-run home run to increase the lead to 11-2.
Arcanum then made the second out but couldn’t close out the inning as Ashlee Barger walked, Martin reached on an infield single, and Rutherford reached on an error that scored Barger, ending the game on the 10-run run rule.
“Like I told the girls, we’ve been on the other end of it, too,” Stone said. “Close ballgames and there’s one inning that busts it open and they did it. They’re a heck of a ball team. I hope they win the whole daggone thing.”
Robinson had a home run for Arcanum, Zell had a single and scored a run, and Sharritts had two singles.
Elle Siculan pitched 3 1/3 innings, allowing four earned runs and one unearned run on eight hits and one walk. Macy Skelton pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed seven earned runs on six hits, three walks and one strikeout.
Monday’s loss marked the end of the high school careers of eight Arcanum seniors: Cassidy Clark, Brittany Kinney, Brenna Loxley, Shai Robinson, Lucy Shannon, McKenzie Sharritts, Hannah Weaver and Kaitlyn Zell.
“They had a great career, and I’m proud of every one of them,” Stone said.
While the seniors will be missed, Stone is excited about the talent the Trojans have returning for next year.
“We have a very good JV team,” he said. “We’ve got about five or six of these girls back next year, both of our pitchers are back, both of our catchers are back so that’s a good start right there. We’ll be a different team. We won’t be as much of a power team as we were, but we’ll have a lot more speed than we had this year. Looking forward to it.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.