By Tony Maluso
FINDLAY - If you play with fire too many times, you're bound to get burned.
Mohawk played with fire for five innings, but in the sixth, Mohawk got burned.
The Warriors spent a good portion of their Division IV regional against Convoy Crestview working themselves in and out of jams, until the sixth inning, when the Knights finally got the big hit that had eluded them up until that point.
Convoy Crestview 4,
Convoy Crestview (26-5): McKenzie Nofer 3-1-1-0; Holly Genth 2-0-0-0; Kirstin Hicks 4-0-0-1; Taylor Hamrick 1-1-0-0; Maddie Etzler 3-1-1-1; Taylor Springer 2-1-0-0; Terra Crowle 1-0-0-0; Morgan McClure 0-0-0-0; Dani Hicks 1-0-0-0; Taylor Richard 2-0-0-0; Mackenzie Riggenbach 0-0-0-0. Totals: 19-4-2-2.
Mohawk (21-6): Sarah Runion 3-1-2-0; Ashley Cooper 2-0-2-1; Taylor McClain 3-0-1-0; Kasey Adelsperger 3-0-0-0; Dani Tyree 3-0-1-0; Nikki Kieffer 3-0-0-0; Molli Cartwright 3-0-1-0; Clara Adelsperger 3-0-0-0; MacKenzie Sowers 3-0-0-0; Brooke Weinandy 0-0-0-0. Totals: 26-1-7-1.
Crestview1000030 - 4
Mohawk0010000 - 1
WP - Crowle. LP - Adelsperger
3B - Etzler (CR)
2B - Runion (M), Cooper (M)
The end result was a three-run sixth inning for Crestview and a 4-1 victory, sending last year's state runner-up back to Akron for another shot at a title.
Mohawk pitcher Kasey Adelsperger limited Crestview to just two hits, but struggled with control issues, walking 11 batters.
"Eleven walks ... ouch," Mohawk coach Jenny Weinandy said. "That's the most she's thrown in a game all year. I thought winning districts would give her confidence and she came into the game having confidence. Her defense was behind her, but Convoy Crestview kept us off balance up at the plate. ... I thought Kasey came back towards the end there and we kept them off balance and we didn't let them control the whole game.
"To me, this was a great game. I knew it was going to be a great game. Unfortunately, we came on the other end of it."
Adelsperger walked the bases loaded in the third and fourth innings, but each time was able to work out of trouble.
However in the sixth, Adelsperger walked Taylor Hamrick to open the inning, and Maddie Etzler delivered the biggest blow of the game.
It was Crestview's second, and final hit of the game, but it proved to be the most damaging. Etzler ripped a shot down the third base line for a triple that scored Hamrick to give Crestview the lead.
The play kind of made Crestview coach Owen Pugh OK with the fact that he called a bunt on that play.
"I think it was that bunt that I called and Maddy hit it down third base. I'm pretty sure that's what it was," Pugh said when asked the difference in the game. "It's just been, that we have not given up all year. We've had each others back and when we've had to come through, somebody has come through."
Mohawk tried to rally back in the bottom of the inning. Ashley Cooper and Taylor McClain led off the frame with back-to-back base hits, but Crestview pitcher Terra Crowle sandwiched a pop-out in between two strikeouts to stop any potential Warrior rally. She then struck out the side in the seventh to end the game.
"Their pitcher really kept us off balance with her off-speed. We just didn't string the hits together like we normally do," Weinandy said. "I felt the top of the order was hitting. Molli (Cartwright) came through with a big hit there. We just couldn't produce one right after the other. ... We didn't have our team hitting today."
"She had a couple different speeds that she was using and we're not used to that," Cooper added. "We're used to one consistent speed or a changeup and she had a couple different ones she was using. So I think that's what she was doing to keep us off balance a little bit."
Pugh credited pitching coach Carl Etzler with calling the pitches that kept Mohawk off balance.
"Terra threw a fantastic game today, but (coach Etzler) called the game of his life today. Because we knew exactly what we had to do with those girls with their batting lineup and he just called a great game and Terra pitched every pitch that he called."
In the third, Crestview, already leading 1-0, had the bases loaded with no outs. However, Holly Genth popped up a bunt to third baseman Clara Adelsperger who made the catch and tossed to Sarah Runion covering third to double off Dani Hicks.
Kasey Adelsperger then got Kirstin Hicks to fly out to center to end the inning.
Mohawk tied the game in the bottom of the inning. Runion and Cooper had back-to-back doubles to nearly the same spot in left-center, the latter scoring Runion to tye the game.
Adelsperger again walked the bases loaded in the fourth, but this time with two outs. She got Mackenzie Richard to pop out to Cartwright at second base to end the threat.
Out of the 190 schools which began the season playing Division IV softball, Mohawk finishes as one of the eight best.
The Warriors were .500 a year ago and climbed to within one step of state.
"We've come a long way. We've grown closer throughout the season," Cooper said. "We've had challenges this season that we all faced and that brought us really close. I think we just gelled. I love all these girls; they are like my family."
"I feel like we grew really close by the end of the season," Cartwright added. "We were there for each other and we had a lot of teamwork, a lot of determination to go far this year. It's hard on the seniors, we don't get to come back to this, but we've done a lot of good things this year and it feels good to know we can accomplish great things with each other."