By Rob Kiser
It was a “sacrifice” Piqua senior catcher Reynna Lavey had to make.
With the eighth-seeded Piqua softball team tied with 19th seed Fairmont 2-2 in the home seventh inning and the winning run on third, the catcher drilled a shot to the fence in right field with one out to give the Lady Indians a 3-2 win over Fairmont and cap a three-run rally in the seventh inning.
The Lady Indians, 21-5, advance to host Troy at 5 p.m. Wednesday in second-round action.
“The thing is, I will have a new look on Wednesday,” Lavey said with a smile. “I agreed with one of the girls if we won this game, I would go blonde. So, we will see how that goes.”
As for delivering a clutch hit, that was nothing new for Lavey — who leads the team with 35 RBIs.
“I figured with a 3-1 count, she was going to have to give me a pitch to hit and if she did, I was going to smack it,” Lavey said. “It felt really good coming off the bat.”
It capped an amazing turnaround in the seventh inning — which started in the top of the seventh.
Already leading 2-0, Fairmont’s Brianna West led off the inning with a triple.
On a ground ball by Taylor Baer to third baseman Mariah Blankenship, Blankenship caught West off third and caught her in a run down — with Lavey making the tag after several throws.
“What a play by our freshman (Mariah Blankenship),” Piqua coach Rick Claprood said. “She looked her back and the girl just froze.”
Baer finished at second base on the play, but Kyla Blankenship capped a six-hitter, with 10 strikeouts by striking out the next two batters to keep the deficit at 2-0.
“I have given up trying to figure her out,” Claprood said about his pitcher. “She is amazing some times.”
Fairmont pitcher Danielle Wilhelm had allowed just one hit in the first six innings, but had stranded eight baserunners as Piqua was unable to take advantage of five walks and a hit batter.
“We had eight runners in scoring position,” Claprood said. “When you have those opportunities, you need to take advantage of them. You have to give their pitcher credit for doing a great job in those situations.”
Wilhelm retired the first batter in the seventh, but that was the last out she would get.
“I think we have good hitters one through nine and we believe in each other,” Lavey said. “That is why we can win a game like this. We all believe in each other.”
Megan Anderson started things with a walk and stole second.
After getting down 0-2 in the count, Lexi Gordon was able to poke a hit over the infield.
“I just knew I had to get a hit,” Gordon said.
With runners on second and third, Alyssa Jones drilled a single to score Anderson and make it 2-1, with Gordon having to stop at third.
“Megan (Anderson) gets on — then Lexi (Gordon) and Lou (Alyssa Jones) get hits,” Claprood said.
On a pitch that got away just far enough from catcher Kierah Parker, Gordon sped home with the tying run.
“I saw the pitch get by her (Kierah Parker) and I took off,” Gordon said. “I knew I had to score.”
Then, Claprood had a message for Lavey — with Jones standing on third after the wild pitch with the winning run.
“Lexi (Gordon) scoring and tying the game was huge,” Claprood said. “I told Reynna (Lavey). ‘if you get a pitch in the zone, smack the you know what out of it,’.”
Lavey did exactly that, ending the game.
“That would have scored two or three runs if the runners had been on,” Claprood said. “I thought we came out flat tonight, but I am so proud of this team and their effort — the way they battled back in the seventh.”
Melanie Grant had a RBI single in the first to score Baer, who had singled.
Becca Johnson had a sacrifice fly in the fourth after two walks and an error to make it 2-0, before Piqua’s rally gives them a third meeting with Troy Wednesday after splitting the season series.
“This feels really good to come back and get this win,” Lavey said. “I am proud of this team.”
Even if it means sporting a new look on Wednesday.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.