Don’t fight the power
ARCADIA – There’s some math that may extend outside of algebra class to figure out how a softball team goes from hitting one home run all season to suddenly launching four in one game.
It starts with taking a variable of 165 to 180 feet (the fences), adding 10 to 15 mile per hour winds (blowing out) and some solid fastballs to a hot hitting team.
The equation totaled four for Carey but added up to only three for Arcadia.
But home run totals weren’t the only thing Carey beat Arcadia at: hits, RBIs, pitcher strikeout totals. And oh yeah, runs.
Carey used those four blasts, as well as 11 hits and seven free passes from Arcadia to beat the Redskins, 13-9, in the Division IV sectional final at Arcadia’s Community Park Thursday afternoon.
Carey (15-6) moves on to face Riverdale, which upset No. 2 seed Arlington, 4-2. The Blue Devils and Falcons will square off in the district semifinal in Kenton at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
It’s not likely Carey will slug as many home runs the next game, let alone the rest of its season, but for one night, it was beautiful to Carey coach Teresa Jacoby.
“That was the most intense game with home runs, both sides, (that I’ve seen),” Jacoby said. “We had one home run for our team all season and to come back with four today (is incredible).”
Eight of Carey’s 13 runs came off the long ball Thursday night, led by Chelsea Schlack’s two-run homer in the fourth that broke a 5-5 tie and Abby Hall’s grand slam in the fifth that broke the game open.
“That’s the first one over the fence I’ve ever hit,” said Hall, who hit an inside the park homer her freshman season. “This is way more fun. We knew short fence coming here so we were ready to go.”
Not to be left out were Ali Rymer and Dani Berardinelli-Clark, who hit solo shots as well. All but one Carey hitter had at least one hit and all but two drove in runs in the game. Schlack also had two singles and Hall added another single as well to the hit totals.
“We knew it was a possibility today with the way the girls have been hitting and the shorter fence,” Jacoby said. “Long gap shots all year, so we knew it was a possibility. (The) wind was blowing out and for it to be both ways, it was pretty intense.”
Arcadia’s Ashley Baird (12-7) didn’t help her own cause on the mound. Blustery temps and a mist that started in the fourth and stuck around for the most of the game caused control problems for both squads, but particularly Baird, who walked seven while striking out just two. One of those walks forced in a run.
She did, however, help at the plate. With her team down 12-5 in the bottom of the sixth, she tattooed an Ali Rymer pitch into the tops of the pine trees in straight away center. The grand slam cut the lead to 12-9, but Arcadia managed just one base runner the rest of the game.
“It seemed like it never stopped,” Arcadia coach David Spridgeon said of the game’s seven home runs. “Molly Glick hits that first home run of the game and I’m over here throwing stuff, like ‘quit dropping your hands’ and somehow it gets over the fence. That was just the story of the game.”
Rymer (13-4) walked three but struck out five and relied on solid defense to keep Arcadia in check.
“Rymer did a great job throwing strikes,” Spridgeon said. “We did not throw strikes when we needed to. We walked a runner in. Again, (Rymer) threw a lot of strikes today.”
The Redskins (13-8) had 10 hits in the game with three of those being the home runs, accounting for six of their runs. The Carey defense stranded seven Arcadia runners.
“(It was a) pressure game the whole time. I think that’s the most intense game we’ve ever played and the defense came back hot,” Jacoby said. “They just did a good job.”
Despite the final score, it was a see-saw game for the first four innings. Carey led 1-0 in the top of the second only to see Arcadia tie it on a Molly Glick homer in the bottom of the inning. ?Carey went up 3-1 in the third inning on Taylor Fletcher and Hannah Draper singles, scoring Makenzie Wentling and Hall.
But the Redskins stormed ahead in the bottom part of the frame with Courtney Cramer homering, Maddie Mock and Skyler Conley each singling in a run and Haley Kieffer getting hit by a pitch to force home a run.
All four of Carey’s runs in the top of the fourth came off the long ball with Bernandinelli-Clark and Rymer finding daylight over the outfield wall to open the inning. After a Haley Hoepf single, Schlack belted a two-run homer to give Carey a 7-5 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“I think you saw two good ball clubs here and two good offensive teams. With our field the way it is, you saw what can happen here and you saw the long ball. Fortunately throughout the year, we’ve been able to keep them inside the fence unless we’re hitting them. And tonight it went the opposite way and that’s just the way it is. You give Carey a lot of credit and hit the snot out of the ball.”
Jacoby said her team is hitting its stride at the right time.
“We have started our run rally here at the end. We started the season 0-3 and we’re undefeated in the last week and we’re just carrying our momentum into tournament and it’s the perfect time to peak,” Jacoby said.