Corrected Version: Springfield won the district semifinal.
Call it a Quinn win for the Notre Dame Eagles in a tight, well pitched and played Division I district semifinal game today.
Notre Dame sophomore Quinn Sobieszczanski drove in both of her team's runs, including a game-winning RBI double in the eighth inning. Sobieszczanski also hit a solo home run to lead the Eagles to a 2-1 victory over Anthony Wayne in extra innings at Rolf Park in Maumee.
Notre Dame finally solved the Generals' unhittable pitcher, sophomore Kaitlyn Ray, who struck out 14 batters and allowed only two hits. The Eagles finally broke through in the top of the eighth inning.
Amanda Del Monte doubled to the fence in right-center with one out. Then Sobieszczanski drove a line shot in the alley in right-center to plate Del Monte with the winning run.
“It felt really good to pick my team up like that,” Sobieszczanski said. “I knew I had to make contact somehow. She threw me a couple right down the middle the first at bat and I thought she'd do it again. So I took the first one and made contact and it felt good.”
Notre Dame (18-8) advances to face Springfield (19-4) in the D-I district championship game on Friday. The Blue Devils defeated Perrysburg 12-1 in six innings in the other semifinal today.
Notre Dame starter Cassie Gillespie only struck out one but was equally effective, yielding just one run on six hits.
“There was no room for error, especially with a great pitcher like [Ray],” Gillespie said. “She was pretty much unstoppable. But that motivated me to keep it close. I went as hard as I can. I know my team has my back. I have a lot of confidence in our team. We pull through in tight situations.”
Ray featured an overpowering fastball mixed with effective off speed pitches. Her low, crouched delivery also kept the ND batters off balance. But she did not start the game.
Anthony Wayne starter Allyson Graf allowed Sobieszczanski's homer in the second.
“We knew all it would take was one bolt of lightening,” said Notre Dame coach Norm Kujawa. “And we got it.”
Sobieszczanski hit a line shot over the fence in dead left field.
“It felt really good,” Sobieszczanski said. “As soon as I made contact I knew it was gone.”
Sobieszczanski's home run traveled about 205 feet for a 1-0 Eagles' lead in the top of the second inning.
Graf was then replaced by Ray, who proceeded to strikeout nine of the next 12 batters. Ray fanned the side in order in the fourth.
Anthony Wayne coach Ron Meyers said he has followed a similar plan in about two-thirds of his team's game. He said the sophomore has been injured all season long but the Generals are still 18-5.
“She is ailing some and we are trying to get some innings out of our other pitcher,” Meyers said. “Plus we tried to change up the timing through the first time through the lineup.”
The Generals' offense struck for their only run in the bottom of the second inning. Emma Hoffman singled and then Alexis Reihing smashed a two-out double to the fence in right to plate Hoffman, tying it at 1.
Gillespie then settled in after yielding the run.
AW had a lead off single in the fifth by Reihing. But she was then thrown out by the first baseman after rounding second base too far after a sac bunt.
Notre Dame had a runner on with no out after Gillespie led off with a walk. The Generals also committed an error and Ray walked Nicole Butson to load the bases with two outs. But the Eagles left the bases jammed when Ray struck out Emily Lehmkuhl.
Sobieszczanski, who is small in stature, came into the game batting .305 with 16 RBIs.
“She always gets the job done,” Kujawa said. “She always puts the bat on the ball. She's never out of an at bat. That is why she's been in the five hole all season. She makes contact. She's gotten stronger and more disciplined. I'm really happy for her. It's well deserved.”
The teams had split a doubleheader earlier in the season with Notre Dame winning 1-0 and AW taking a 4-0 victory.
The Eagles advance to the district final game for the third straight year. They upset Springfield in the district semis last year.
“We have great momentum,” Sobieszczanski said. “We pick each other up when we're down. We're going to come hard again and we're going to do what we can. We will make the plays we need to.”
In the other semifinal, Springfield scored three runs in the first inning and led 4-1 after three innings. The Blue Devils then scored eight more in the sixth to win by the mercy rule.
Lexi Buck went 3-for-4 with a home run and had three RBIs. Kiley Aller had three singles, while Bre Buck had an RBI double. Kierra Hague also had an RBI double.
Perrysburg (10-15) got its lone run on an RBI by Tylah Remaley in the third.
The district final is at 5 p.m. on Friday at Rolf Park. Notre Dame defeated Springfield 6-5 last year.
“They are always ready,” Kujawa said. “They are an awesome team. We are looking forward to playing them again.”