It was a game that will be talked about for years to come as the Fairfield Lady Lions and the Portsmouth West Lady Senators faced off in a Southeast District Division III championship game Saturday at Piketon High School. It was a pitcher’s marathon 10-inning duel like no other as both teams backed up their pitchers with stellar defense before Portsmouth West won, 1-0, on a solo home run in the bottom of the third extra inning.
It was familiar territory for Fairfield, playing in its sixth district championship game in the last eight years.
For Portsmouth West it was their first trip to the final game of the district tournament since 2015.
The game featured two teams with 20 wins and two of the top pitchers in the Southeast District in Fairfield sophomore Caitlyn Quickle and Portsmouth West junior Sydney McDermott.
“Those of us that were a part of the game thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed it,” said Tom Purtell, a Fairfield coach.
Fairfield senior Captain Halle Hamilton said after the game, “Even though I am disappointed that we lost, it was the most fun I ever had playing a softball game. I am so proud of pitcher Caitlin Quickle and our defense. Our team fought hard and never gave up. It was truly a feeling of great satisfaction and pride.”
Both pitchers were challenged across the 10 innings.
Fairfield placed runners in scoring position in the first, fourth, ninth and 10th innings, but West’s McDermott was up to the challenge, limiting the Fairfield to just three hits while striking out 14 batters.
Portsmouth West placed runners in scoring position in the second, third, fourth, sixth and ninth innings, but Fairfield’s Quickle was brilliant on the mound pitching out of these situations time and time again with the help of outstanding defense by the Lady Lion defense. Quickle shut down the high-powered West offense by scattering nine hits and two walks (one intentionally), while striking out eight batters.
West put runners on first and second base with one out in the bottom of the second inning, but Quickle struck out the next batter and got the third out on ground ball back to the circle.
In the third inning with two outs, West got back-to-back hits to put runners on second and third again, but freshman third baseman Hannah Hamilton made a diving catch on a line drive to end the inning.
In the fourth inning, West placed runners on first and third on hits by Bradford and Pollard, but again Quickle got a ground ball to freshman shortstop Jobey Hattan to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, Pickelshimer drew a base on balls to lead off the inning and advanced to second base on by a sacrifice bunt. Fairfield then issued an intentional walk to Bradford. But Quickle forced a pop fly to second baseman Halle Hamilton and ground ball to third baseman Hannah Hamilton.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Kate Rollins led off the inning with a line drive hit to the corner in right field. But sophomore right fielder Sydney Hooper raced to the corner and made a quick strong throw to second base to hold Rollins to single. The play was key because the next batter hit a line drive back to the circle and Rollins was doubled up at first base. Quickle ended the inning with a ground ball to Halle Hamilton.
Fairfield threatened to score in the top of ninth inning. Quickle hit a short fly ball that fell between the center fielder, right fielder, and second baseman. Running hard from the batter box, Quickle slid into second base for a double with one out. Emmi Vance laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Quickle to third base. But West’s McDermott struck out the next batter to end the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Macie Bradford led off the inning with a single up the middle. West advanced Bradford to third base with two outs on consecutive sacrifice bunts. Quickle ended the threat with a ground ball out to Hattan.
Fairfield threatened to score again in the 10th inning. Faith Miller was safe on an infield hit and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Hannah Hamilton then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Miller to third base. But again, McDermott got a pop fly to the catcher and a strikeout to end the inning.
Quickle struck out the lead off batter in the bottom of the tenth inning. But on the 259th pitch of the game, West’s Emily Moore ended the marathon classic with a walk off home run over the center field fence.
“It was a game that no one deserved to lose, but was also enjoyed by everyone that was a part of it,” Purtell said.
Leading hitters for the Lady Lions were: Caitlyn Quickle (1 for 3, double, walk), Faith Miller (1 for 4) and Sydney Hooper (1 for 3).
Quickle (13-4) suffered the loss for Fairfield. In 9.3 innings, she gave nine hits and two walks while striking out eight.
West’s McDermott (24-2) was the winning pitcher. In 10 shutout innnings she allowed three and three walks while striking out 14.
The Fairfield Lady Lions (20-5) finished a very successful softball season, winning their sixth consecutive Southern Hills Athletic Conference championship and 23rd overall, their 20th consecutive sectional championship and 35th overall, and finished as the Southeast District Division III runner-up.
Lady Lions Halle Hamilton, Quickle and Vance were named to the All-SHAC team.
“The Fairfield Lady Lions players and coaches wish to thank all of our many loyal fans that followed us all season and especially on Saturday to Piketon,” Purtell said. “The Fairfield Lady Lions plan to return to the district tournament next season as they celebrate their 50th anniversary of Fairfield Lady Lions softball in 2023.”
Fairfield bids farewell to their senior lead off hitter and team captain Halle Hamilton.
“Halle is not just a special softball player, but a very special person. Halle leaves the program with conference and district awards, all-district scholar athlete awards, and two of the most clutch hits in program history. Both clutch hits came against Ironton in the 2019 regional semifinal game and this season’s regular season come-from-behind win,” Purtell said. “Halle Hamilton will attend The Ohio State University to study health sciences. Good luck Halle, you will do well.”
Information for this story was provided by Tom Purtell, a Fairfield softball coach.