By Dale Barger
ANSONIA – It was a battle between two quality pitchers for a chance to advance to play in the OHSAA District Championship game. In the end it was Riverside who pushed across more runners that got on base, along with lost opportunity by the Tigers who left runners on base as they fell 4-1 to the Pirates.
Ansonia was able to get runners on base in the first 3 innings and left 3 in scoring position early on while the Pirates were able to touch up the Tigers scoring 3 runs going into the bottom half of the 4th inning.
The Tigers would mount another threat, this one appeared to be promising as they loaded up the bases with no outs that started on a hard-hit ball from Maddie Buckingham who hustled to first base and beat the throw that was in the dirt.
Maddie Buckingham eyes a pitch that she was able to put in play and beat out a 1st base.
That was followed by a hit up the middle from Abby Kramer to put runners at 1st and 2nd.
Kinsey Hartzell then looped a ball to the outfield, but the runners had to hold till it dropped and now the bases were loaded.
The Pirates coaxed a ground ball to the pitcher who took the force at home plate to record an out … but the bases were still loaded.
Riverside senior pitcher Alaina Snow struck out the next batter, one of her 11 strikeouts on the night and now the bases were loaded with two outs.
But Snow let a pitch go in the dirt with Avalyn Locke at the plate and it would score Kramer to make the score 3-1. Locke then drew a walk, and the bases were still loaded with two outs.
Kylie Caldwell then hit a bullet to shortstop who was able to field it and get her at first allowing the Pirates to escape giving up a big inning to still lead 3-1 going into the 5th inning.
Riverside was lively at the plate and hit a number of balls deep into the outfield giving Kelsey Muhlenkamp, Avalyn Locke and Kylie Caldwell plenty of action, but the trio did an admirable job of reeling them in.
But the Pirates were able to squeeze in another run in the 6th inning on a couple of hard-hit balls and a 4-1 lead in a game like this is a mountain to climb.
On this night the Tigers were just missing making solid contact and unable to push anymore runs across to the plate to help Abby Kramer who pitched a nice game of her own giving up 6 hits and had 6 strikeouts.
“We ran into a really good pitcher tonight,” Ansonia coach Floyd Jenkins said
“They hit the ball well and we didn’t hit quite as smooth as we normally do,” he added.
“I told the girls it’s tough to lose … someone’s loses, unfortunately it was us, but I’m really proud of how they played all year, and we had a pretty successful season. In my 20 years of coaching this has been one of the more memorable seasons because this group made it fun,” Floyd commented.
“We had to play a lot of kids in different spots this year, we lost all three outfielders from last year, so everything was new there and the girls responded, we’re a fairly young team and should be solid going into next year.”
“It’s hard to say goodbye to our two seniors (Kinsey Hartzell & Madisyn Esser) on the team and what they have meant to this program. They were here all the time, great leaders who were smart and able to separate what was important. Both are going to college, and I told them just remember the real important things are yet to happen and their future is bright,” Jenkins concluded.
Senior Madisyn Esser took the last swing in her career at Ansonia.
It will be hard to replace the bat of Kinsey Hartzell who hit 452 this year and was 7th in the WOAC in hitting with 28 hits, 4 double and 4 triples.
The Tigers conclude a successful season with a 16-9 overall record, a sectional championship and 2nd place in the Western Ohio Athletic Conference with a 9-2 record.
The future looks bright for Ansonia softball with 15 game winner Abby Kramer who led the league in strikeouts with 146, combined that with the nucleus of their team returning and the Tigers should once again be in the hunt for a WOAC title.
Junior Abby Kramer was a league leading pitcher in the WOAC & returns along with the nucleus of her team for next year.