The Fairfield Lady Lions were in familiar territory Tuesday as they traveled to Unioto High School for a Southeast District Division III semifinal game against the Westfall Lady Mustangs. Fairfield was making its 20th consecutive trip to the district tournament. No other team competing in the tournament has that on their resume.
And the Lady Lions did not disappoint as they came away with a 5-1 victory before a stand room only crowd, allowing Fairfield to advance to the district championship game for the sixth time in seven years.
Fairfield improved to 20-4 while Westfall fell to 15-9.
The Fairfield Lady Lions, playing their best softball of the season, were brilliant.
Caitlyn Quickle picked up her 13th win of the season and led the Lady Lion offense with two hits.
“The Lady Lions used their aggressive base running to steal a base when needed and lay down a bunt to force Westfall into a few defensive mistakes,” Fairfield coach Tom Purtell said. “The Fairfield defense made some outstanding plays. Sophomore center fielder Emmi Vance made two outstanding plays running down a deep fly ball in left center field and another in short right center field to strand Mustang runners on base. Caitlyn Quickle pitched an outstanding game, scattering four hits while striking out seven.”
Fairfield held Westfall scoreless in the top of the first inning. Halle Hamilton led off the bottom of the first inning and used her speed to force an error by the left side of the Westfall infield to reach first base. Jobey Hattan laid down a bunt to the right side of the infield and was also safe on an error as Hamilton advanced to second base. Quickle stepped to the plate and doubled to deed left center field to score Hamilton as Hattan reached third base. Emmi Vance hit a sacrifice fly to deep right center field to score Hattan and give the Lady Lions an early 2-0 lead.
Quickle and the Lady Lion defense held Westfall scoreless in the second and third innings.
Fairfield scored two more runs in the bottom of the third inning to increase its lead to 4-0. With one out Quickle and Vance had back-to-back singles to center field. With two outs, Faith Miller hit an infield single to load the bases. Freshman third baseman Hannah Hamilton stepped to the plate and singled to left field to score both Gwen Cox, running for Quickle, and Vance.
Fairfield added another run in the fourth inning. With one out, Halle Hamilton singled to center field and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Hattan laid down the perfect sacrifice bunt as Hamilton advanced to third and scored on a throwing error at third base.
Westfall scored its only run in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, Logan McNeal reached first on an infield hit as the throw to first was lost in the setting sun. With McNeal on second base, Madison Kearney singled to center field to score McNeal.
Quickle and the Lady Lion defense closed the door in the sixth and seventh innings to seal the victory and a trip to the district championship game.
Leading hitters for the Lady Lions were: Halle Hamilton (1 for 3, 2 runs), Hattan (0 for 2, sac bunt, 1 run, 1 RBI), Quickle (2 for 3, double, 1 runs, 1 RBI), Vance (1 for 2, sac fly, 1 run, 1 RBI), Faith Miller (1 for 3), Hannah Hamilton (1 for 3, 2 RBI), and Sydney Hooper (1 for 3, stolen base).
Quickle (13-3) pitched the full seven innings for Fairfield. She gave up one unearned run on on hit and two walks, while striking out seven.
Olivia Dumm suffered the loss for Westfall. In six innings of work she allowed five runs (two earned) on seven hits and no walks, while striking out nine.
The Lady Lions advance to the Southeast District Division III championship game at Unioto High School on Saturday, where they will face Portsmouth West at 2 p.m.
Portsmouth West defeated the Nelsonville York, 10-0, in the other semifinal game.
Information for this story was provided by Tom Purtell, a Fairfield softball coach.