RICHMOND Buckeye Local is one step away from another title.
Led by Lauren Swiger, the Panthers made the most of their opportunities as the Buckeye Local softball team toppled Edison, 9-1, in an Ohio Division II Eastern District Sectional Semifinal Tuesday at Jefferson Lake State Park.
"It is a good day," Buckeye Local (15-11) head coach Joe Soss said. "Any day is a good day when you win."
With the win, the Panthers advanced to the sectional final at 5 p.m. Thursday. Buckeye Local will play the winner of today's semifinal game between Big Red and Indian Creek. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
"Buckeye obviously showed they were ready to play," Edison (17-10) head coach Spencer Bendle said. "They are a darn-good ballclub.
"We had a couple of opportunities early where we stranded runners. We did not get the timely hits when we needed to. On the other side of that, they did get that two-out hit there early in the game. That kind of set the stage of how things went today.
"Buckeye played well. They beat us in every area of the game. There is no doubt they deserved to win. Their pitcher threw strikes. Their defense played well, their outfield made some really-exceptional plays and they hit the ball.
"Most definitely they were the better team."
Ivy Starcher recorded the win for the Panthers. She struck out six and walked two while allowing one run on seven hits.
Offensively, Swiger did the most damage as the shortstop produced a two-run double and a three-run home run to lead the way. Also, Kierstyn Czuchran contributed a two-run single, Taryn Tonkovich tallied a single and an RBI and Kaylee DeCesare and Aliyah Marelli each collected a base hit.
Starcher not only received a good amount of support at the plate, but she also got plenty of it in the field as the Panthers' made multiple good days in the field.
"Edison is a good team, and when you play a good team like that you have to play defense," Soos said. "Edison is a good team. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They play really good competition. You are always on needles and pins whenever you play them.
"I thought we played fantastic defense. Our outfield caught about four balls most outfielders don't make. That set up our big day."
Mikayla Tice took the loss for the Wildcats. Tice struck out two and walked three in her five-plus innings of work inside the circle. Tice was replaced in the sixth by Zoe Westfall. Westfall issued one free pass while not picking up a strikeout.
The Wildcats' pitchers were hurt by the team's four errors. The Panthers finished the game with two.
The Panthers opened the scoring with two-unearned runs in the first inning.
Tonkovich singled to lead off the game. Then with two outs, Czuchran belted a line drive to centerfield. The ball bounced off of Hunter's glove as she tried to make a running catch. Next, Swiger smacked a double over Hunter's head plating Tonkovich and Czuchran to put Buckeye Local out in front 2-0.
The Wildcats missed out on an opportunity to score in the bottom half of the inning.
With one out, Hunter reached on a single, and she took second on a throwing error. Next, Stewart lofted the ball into centerfield for a base hit, but Hunter was unable to move up on the play as she waited to see if the ball was going to be caught. Starcher retired the next two batters to get out of the inning unscathed.
Edison also had two hits in the second inning, but once again the Wildcats did not get anything to show for it.
Brenstuhl started the inning off with a base hit, but she was thrown out at second trying to turn stretch the hit into a double. After a strikeout, Tice singled, but Starcher was able to get out of the inning with another strikeout.
Buckeye Local broke the game open with four runs in the fifth.
The Panthers loaded the bases with no outs as Tonkovich walked, Marelli singled and Karlee Leonard was hit by a pitch. Next, Czuchran hit a groundball to Molly McCoy at shortstop, but McCoy's throw's got away at the plate allowing Tonkovich to score. The loose ball was retrieved, and Marelli was ruled out as she slid into the plate.
With the score 3-0, Swiger blasted her 3-run home run over the fence to give the visitors a 6-0 advantage.
The Wildcats got on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the inning.
McCoy walked to lead off the inning, and she moved to third on two wild pitches. Next, Hunter reached on an error, which enabled McCoy to score as the Wildcats cut their deficit to 6-1.
Tonkovich plated a run when she reached on an error, and the other two runs came on Czuchran's two-run single.