In a sectional tournament championship game matchup between two of the top softball teams in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference over the last 50 years, the Fairfield Lady Lions captured their 35th sectional title Thursday with a 10-0 victory in five innings over Eastern Brown before a standing room only crowd in Leesburg.
It was Fairfield’s unprecedented 20th straight sectional tournament championship.
Fairfield improved to 17-4, while the Eastern Brown Lady Warriors fell to 9-8.
Caitlyn Quickle (11-3) was brilliant in the circle and had full command of her pitches, throwing a one-hit shutout, her sixth of the season, while striking out eight.
“The Lady Lions defense made the plays behind Quickle and the Fairfield batters again were explosive at the plate,” said Tom Purtell, a Fairfield coach.
After a scoreless first inning, Fairfield dented the plate with two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Red-hot Emmi Vance led off the inning with a single to left center field and Sydney Sanders was hit by a pitch. Faith Miller laid down a bunt single that scored Vance. Hannah Hamilton laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Sydney Sanders to third and Miller to second. Carly Sanders grounded out to the shortstop to score Sydney Sanders.
Fairfield then did what good teams do, increasing its lead with three runs in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, Jobey Hattan singled to center field. Quickle doubled to the fence in left center field, sending Hattan to third base. With first base open, Eastern chose to pitch to the Vance. She launched the second pitch she saw over the right center field fence for a three-run home run.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Eastern rallied to put two runners in scoring position in the top of the fifth inning. With two outs, Alyssa Perkins drew a base on balls. Katelyn Brown then worked Quickle to a full count and bounced a line drive over the left field fence for a ground rule double. It was Eastern’s only hit of the game. Quickle retired the next batter on a routine fly ball to left field to end the threat.
TheLady Lions came out swinging in the bottom of the fifth inning. Hattan led off the inning with a line drive single to center field and Quickle laced a line drive single to center field. A Vance approached the plate for her turn at bat, Eastern decided they would not make another mistake pitching to her and issued an intentional to load the bases.
Vance had eight hits in eight at-bats over the last three games including three home runs.
Sydney Sanders followed with a sacrifice fly to deep right field to score Hattan. Miller reached first on a bunt single to score Gwen Cox, running for Quickle. Hannah Hamilton smashed a hard ground ball through the left side of the infield that scored Vance and Miller as Hannah Hamilton took third base. Carly Sanders then executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt for a hit that scored Hamilton and ended the game at 10-0.
Leading hitters for the Lady Lions were: Hattan (2 for 3, 2 runs), Quickle (2 for 3, double, 2 runs), Vance (2 for 2, home run, 3 runs, 3 RBI), Sydney Sanders (0 for 1, sac fly, hit by pitch, 1 run, 1 RBI), Miller (2 for 2, 1 run, 1 RBI), Hannah Hamilton (0 for 2, 1 run), and Carly Sanders (1 for 3, 2 RBI).
Quickle (11-3) was the winning pitcher for Fairfield. In five scoreless innings she allowed one hit, one walk and struck out eight.
Grace Prewitt suffered the loss for Eastern Brown. In 4.3 innings, she allowed 10 runs (eight earned) on nine hits and two walks while striking out three.
Fairfield, the No. 5 seed, advances to Southeast District Division III Tournament at Unioto High School on Tuesday, where it will play No. 8 seed Westfall at 7 p.m.
Westfall defeated Lucasville Valley, 7-0, in another sectional championship game Thursday.
Prior to the district game, Fairfield will concluded its regular season by hosting a doubleheader against Lynchburg-Clay with games Saturday at 12 noon and 2 p.m.
Information for this story was provided by Tom Purtell, a Fairfield softball coach.