Tri-Village softball wins District Championship

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The Patriots win their 1st District Championship in softball since 1992 with a 10-1 win over Southeastern. (Dale Barger photo)

PLEASANT HILL – The Tri-Village softball team won a decisive OHSAA DIV District Championship with a 10-1 win over 21-2 Southeastern. The Patriots were led by Hailey Burk going 3-for-4 with 5 runs batted in. The team did it with solid pitching, fielding and hitting to earn their first District Title since 1992.

The 23-1 Patriots will now move on to play in the Regional Semi-Final on Wednesday, May 22, 2 pm at Northmont High School where they will take on the winner of the Fort Loramie vs Covington game being played Saturday.

While the Patriots offense and bats were quiet in their district semi-final game they would come alive in the district final.

Emma Greer started the Patriots off where she left off in the last game rapping a triple to get things going in the 1st inning. She was brought home on a hard-hit ball from Kiersten Wilcox to 3rd base on a throwing error to first that also allowed Wilcox to advance to second base.

Emma Greer continues to swing a hot bat with three hits including this triple leading her scoring the 1st run of the game. (Dale Barger photo)

The Trojans pitcher Reece Wells struck out the next two batters stranding Wilcox on 2nd.

Elizabeth Poling was back on the mound for the Tri-Village and the first hitter she faced bunted her way onto base and eventually ended up at third base … but Poling got out of the inning after a sacrifice bunt and two pop-ups.

Hailey Burk started the 2nd inning off with a triple that fired up the Patriots and it would just be the beginning for the young sophomore catcher. However, the Patriots stranded her at third base.

Hailey Burk makes solid contact with one of her two triples in the game. (Dale Barger photo)

They would do the same thing in the 3rd inning after Greer singled, stole second and TV was unable to bring her home and you had to wonder if they were missing opportunities to score and if it was going to haunt them.

However, Elizabeth Poling settled into the circle and for two straight innings set down Southeastern in order to take the game into the top of the 4th inning still up 1-0.

Elizabeth Poling was solid in the circle and would pick up her 22nd win of the season. (Dale Barger photo)

Mylee Bierly doubled to lead off the inning. Two batters later Katie Brandon hit a soft grounder that was picked up by the catcher and she beat the throw to first. At the same time, Bierly was on the move toward 3rd and kept on going beating the throwback to home plate scoring on a great hustle play to give the Patriots a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the 4th inning.

Mylee Bierly turned a hustle play with heads up running into a run to give the Patriots a 2-0 lead in the 4th inning. (Dale Barger photo)

The Trojans got a couple of hits in the bottom of the 4th, but the Patriots made a couple of good defensive plays from Camryn Osborne and Emma Greer to get out of the inning.

The 5th inning turned out to be huge as Tai Mize led off with a hit, followed by a walk from Greer. Kiersten Wilcox put a charge into a ball that was hauled in over the shoulder by the right fielder near the wall allowing Mize to tag and go to 3rd base.

Wells then plunked Osborne with a pitch to load the bases. A crucial strikeout by Wells left the base loaded with two outs and you had to wonder if Tri-Village was going to strand more runners.

But the night belonged to Hailey Burk as she found a gap for her 2nd triple of the game clearing the bases and driving in three runs with a fired-up Burk screaming at her teammates from 3rd base.

Katie Brandon brought Burk home on a single and TV took a 6-0 lead going into the bottom of the 5th inning.

Poling would face 4 hitters retiring three to keep the score 6-0 going into the 6th inning.

It would turn into another big 4 run inning with Mize getting beaned to get on base. Greer provided her 3rd hit of the game, this time a double, her 19th of the season and TV had runners on 2nd and 3rd.

Kiersten Wilcox, who was frustrated after sending two big hits to the outfield wall only to be caught, came up big with a line drive single to left field scoring both Mize and Greer as the Patriots went up 8-0.

Kiersten Wilcox hit the ball hard deep a few times for long outs and finally got a line drive-through for 2 RBIs. (Dale Barger photo)

McKenzie Besecker was inserted into the game as a courtesy runner for Wilcox and she advanced to 2nd base on Mylie Bierly’s second hit of the game.

Up came Hailey Burk and like lightning struck again this time doubling to center field scoring both Besecker and Bierly to give her 5 RBIs in the game and sending the Patriots into the bottom of the 6th inning with a 10-0 lead.

With the Patriots looking to end the game by run rule, Southeastern dropped a double and a single to start the bottom half of the inning prompting a pitching change by coach Emily Osborne that would end a good night of pitching for Poling.

On in relief was Greer who was coming off a win in their previous game. The first batter hit a ball back to her and she took the out at 1st base … but Southeastern scored on the play to break the run-rule prompting another inning.

Greer threw the last two innings without giving up a run and getting out of trouble despite some late-game errors by the Patriots to close it out for the 10-1 win over the Trojans.

Elizabeth Poling picked up her 22nd win of the season prompting praise from coach Osborne.

“For me it was a little pep talk with her, hey, we need you to come out strong. We looked over stats and were prepared for what we knew we would face.  She’s a great ballplayer and was hitting her spots she was excellent on the mound” Osborne said.

In all, Tri-Village had 12 hits in the game.  Hailey Burk was 3-for-4, with five RBIs, and one run scored, Emma Greer was 3-for-4 and four runs scored, Mylee Bierly was 2-for-4, and two runs scored, Katie Brand was 2-for-4, with two RBIs, Kiersten Wilcox was 1-for-4 with three RBI’s and Tai Mize was 1-for-3 with two runs scored.

After the game, Coach Osborne talked about the Patriots’ offense.

“We did what we were planning on doing coming in here tonight by putting the ball in play, making sure we had runners in scoring position and getting them across the plate,” Osborne stated.

It took a few innings before the Patriots had some big run production and Osborne sort of explained the importance of learning and adjusting as the game goes along.

“We’ve stress adjusting at the plate, you see the pitcher once and you’ve got to adjust by the next time you see her again. That’s what we were working on coming out and putting the ball in play,” Osborne explained.

Putting the ball in play was Hailey Burk with a double and two triples but maybe the biggest one being in the 5th inning where she drove in 3 runs supercharging the Patriots.

Burk would duplicate her triple in the 5th inning and fire up her team giving them needed energy along with 3 more runs. (Dale Barger photo)

Osborne acknowledged that was a pivotal play. “Swinging the momentum for us. And with that hit it’s literally what it did,” Osborne praised.

I asked Burk what she thought as she was in the box with bases loaded and all she could think about was her team needed her.

“When I was in the box I kept thinking to myself, I’m going to do this because my team needs me right here and we have to put runs up on the board and it felt really good to come through for my team,” Burk stated.

Burk not only was terrific at the plate she once again was solid behind the plate and complimented Poling on her performance as well.

“Her performance was amazing. It was so fun. Phenomenal. She did great tonight. She pulled through for us. She pitched strikes right where she needed to and She kept us right there,” Burk commended.

Senior leader Kiersten Wilcox also talked about Burk and Poling as well.

“That was a very timely hit by Burk, we needed that, and I think it really brought our momentum back as we were starting to lose a little bit of energy. All season long when we needed a big play someone steps up when it matters and tonight it was Hailey,” Wilcox commented.

“Poling really picked it up today. I was very proud of her, bouncing back after the North she didn’t let that affect her play today and did a really good,” Wilcox added.

For Wilcox winning a district championship was a big deal not only because it’s been 32 years since they last accomplished it … but it also signified how far they have come as a team over the last four years for her and senior teammate Macy Howell.

Seniors Macy Howell & Kiersten Wilcox display a long-awaited District Championship trophy. (Dale Barger photo)

“Yeah, 1992 that was long before I was born, a long time ago, but it feels good really good to get this. Especially because when I was young in my freshman year, we rode the struggle bus for a long time. So, it feels good for Macy and me to finally get some wins under our belt and prove ourselves as players,” Wilcox stated.

Wilcox has more than done that this season as she along with teammate Emma Greer led the team with 41 hits each with both closing in on a possible record for most hits by a player in a season.  Wilcox also has three homers, two triples and eleven doubles while also sliding over on defense first base from third and has played it well.

It’s been a season for winning with just one blemished a one-run loss to Versailles and the Patriots continue to set new marks as they continue to play in the postseason which Coach Osborne talked about.

“We’re just going to continue winning inning by inning and breaking records. That’s kind of been our motto. We had to set new goals coming in here and now reached that goal, so now we have to go back to setting goals and breaking more records,” Osborne emphasized.

23 wins a new record and closing in on the most hits by a team currently with 269 this season. They will get that opportunity come next Wednesday.

It was the 23rd official “KDUB” slide after picking up win 23 for the Patriots. (Dale Barger photo)