CHILLICOTHE — The Fairfield Lady Lions varsity Softball team survived an eight inning thriller against the Wellston Lady Golden Rockets on Thursday at Unioto High School in a Division III Southeast District Semi-Final Tournament game that saw the Lady Lions’ Ashley Sanderson record a walkoff RBI single to seal the 4-3 win and advance the Lady Lions to the District Final game on Saturday against the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates.
“We knew we were in for a dog fight and Wellston showed up and I think they played pretty well,” said Fairfield Head Coach Mark Detwiller.
“The had a reputation of hitting the ball and hitting it hard,” said Fairfield Assistant Coach Tom Purtell.
Kaiti White got the start and pitched all eight innings against the Lady Golden Rockets to pick up her 22nd win of the season. White walked one, struck out seven, gave up eight hits including a home run that tied the game in the top of the seventh inning and allowed three runs against Wellston.
“Kaiti pitched really, really well tonight. She hit her spots like she was supposed to, she was something else,” said Detwiller. “I think she was three for four at the plate. She’s just a phenomenal ball player.”
The Lady Golden Rockets struck first when Coleman scored in the top of the second inning on a wild pitch to put Wellston up 1-0.
Wellston added a second run in the top of the third inning when Johnston doubled and was driven in on a single by Scott to put Fairfield in a 2-0 hole after three innings.
Fairfield finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Layla Hattan reached base on a triple to right center field and Lauren Arnold drove her in with a fielder’s choice in the very next at bat to make it 2-1 after four.
The Lady Lions added two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning when Lyndee Spargur was hit by a pitch from the lead off spot and Megan Gragg singled in the following at bat to put runners on first and second with White stepping to the plate.
A laser off the bat of White resulted in Spargur scoring to tie the game at two runs apiece before a fielder’s choice by Hattan plated Gragg and gave the Lady Lions their first run of the night.
Johnston answered for the Lady Golden Rockets in the top of the seventh inning when she took White’s full count two out pitch for a ride over the left field wall to tie the game at three runs each.
The Lady Lions had an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh but were unable to convert with runners at first and third base.
White’s work in the top of their eighth held the Lady Golden Rockets with out a run to set up the bottom of the eighth for the Lady Lions batters.
White earned a walk as the first batter in the bottom of the inning and Hattan and Arnold followed up with singles in back to back at bats to load the bases with Sanderson stepping to the plate.
Sanderson came up big, after going hitless in her previous three at bats, and slapped a single up the middle that plated White and ended the game with the scoreboard reading 4-3 in favor of the Lady Lions.
Fairfield advances to the Southeast District Final game at Unioto High School on Saturday where they will battle the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates in a matchup of two highly ranked teams.
Ryan Applegate is the Sports Editor for The Times-Gazette. Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.