MASON — Clinton-Massie’s record-setting softball team finally encountered a level of adversity it could not overcome in the Region 8 semifinals Wednesday at Mason High School.
In its first appearance at the regional level, an uncharacteristically poor defensive performance, a questionable call and an outstanding opponent proved to be too much for the Falcons.
Greenville scored nine runs in the final two innings, blowing the game wide open in a 14-4 run-rule victory over Clinton-Massie in six innings.
Clinton-Massie’s season comes to an end with a 27-2 record. Greenville, now 28-3, will play for a regional title noon Saturday at Mason.
In front of a raucous crowd — about two-thirds of which were from Greenville — the Falcons appeared tight in the opening inning.
“I tried to prepare them for it,” CM head coach Anthony Lauer said. “If you’re playing in a championship game in travel ball, you don’t have that (type of environment) right there. You don’t have that many fans. You don’t have that excitement level.”
The Green Wave scored three runs on just one hit in the top of the first thanks to two Clinton-Massie errors. All three runs were unearned. It was 5-0 Greenville going to the bottom of the third.
Clinton-Massie started heating up in the third. Ashlie Miller singled. Victoria Sivert crushed a line-drive over the centerfielder’s head for an RBI double. It was the first run Greenville had allowed since May 2.
Taylor Florea worked a walk, followed by a perfect sacrifice bunt by Lindsey Amberger. That brought Kelsey Carter to the plate with runners on second and third and one out.
Carter laid down what appeared to be a perfect squeeze bunt, which would have scored Sivert easily. However, the home plate umpire ruled Carter had bunted the ball while outside the batter’s box, called her out and returned the runners to second and third.
“I disagree with the call,” Lauer said. “That was a call that I think … would it have changed the game? At that point, it would have changed the game. I questioned that call and from my standpoint on that call, that was the wrong call. I’m not afraid to say it.
“Was it a complete game-changing call? We don’t know. I think it was a momentum call for us.”
A video provided by Clinton-Massie to The News Journal showed Carter was not outside the box when she made contact with the ball.
Those two runners were stranded as Baylee Petry struck out Hailey Clayborn to end the threat.
Clinton-Massie’s lone senior, Madilyn Newton, was involved in a scary collision in the fourth. After a leadoff walk, Morgan Gilbert hit a foul ball down the right field line. Newton and right fielder Lindsey Carter converged on the ball.
Carter caught the ball, but the two collided. Newton stayed down on the field for more than five minutes. She left the game with an apparent head injury.
The effort shown by Newton was something Lauer is used to seeing from his senior leader.
“She’s done that all year,” Lauer said, fighting back tears. “And to be a senior … it’s tough. That’s senior leadership. That hustle right there — what more can you ask for?”
That would be the only inning in which the Green Wave didn’t score. Kendall Anderson, who took over for Newton, nearly homered on the first pitch of the bottom of the fourth. The ball hit the top of the wall and Anderson had a double.
She scored when Miller singled to right. Miller was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double, but Clinton-Massie only trailed 5-2 after four.
The Greenville offense proved to be relentless. Two more Clinton-Massie miscues in the fifth led to four more runs. Greenville added five more in the sixth to push its lead to 14-2.
Clinton-Massie loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of six and pushed across two runs. With the bases loaded and still no outs, the next three hitters were retired, ending the game.
“Our program has never been (to the regional),” Lauer said. “All of them are coming back but one player. To experience this environment … I think it’s huge. This game right here with the environment, if we get back here next year, I think you’ll see a huge difference. I think you’ll see a lot more confidence.”
May 24, 2017
@ Mason High School, Mason
Division II Region 8 Semifinal
Greenville 14, Clinton-Massie 4, 6 innings
(14) GREENVILLE (ab-r-h-rbi) Gilbert 4-2-1-0 Shaffer 3-1-1-1 Cromwell 4-2-1-0 Hanes 3-2-2-2 Grote 3-2-1-0 Hill 3-1-2-4 Petry 3-0-1-2 Johnston 1-2-1-0 Shilt 2-0-0-0 Bryson 1-1-0-0 Pressnall 0-0-0-0 Sowry 0-1-0-0. TOTALS 27-14-10-9.
(4) CLINTON-MASSIE (ab-r-h-rbi) Sivert 3-0-1-1 Florea 2-0-1-0 Martin 1-0-0-0 Amberger 3-0-1-0 K. Carter 3-0-0-0 Clayborn 2-1-0-0 Newton 1-0-0-0 Anderson 2-2-2-0 Carruthers 3-0-1-0 L. Carter 3-0-0-1 Miller 2-1-2-2. TOTALS 25-4-8-3.
2B: G – Hill; CM – Sivert, Anderson
3B: G – Johnston;
HR: G – Hill
SB: G – Gilbert (2), Cromwell, Bryson; CM – Miller
Petry (W) 6-8-4-4-3-1
Florea (L) 5 1/3-9-13-8-5-2
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton.