FOSTORIA — Lindsay George was in a pressure-filled situation Wedneaday for Elmwood in a Division III regional softball semifinal.
She responded with a ground ball on the 15th pitch of her at-bat to drive in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Royals edged New London 2-1.
“There was a lot of pressure,” George said. “I had to stay focused [and] just keep battling.”
Elmwood (24-3) faces the winner of the Ottawa-Glandorf vs. Bloom-Carroll game Saturday for the regional title and a berth in the state semifinals. The game between Ottawa-Glandorf and Bloom-Carroll was postponed and will be played Friday.
With the score tied at 1-1, Elmwood's Rebecca Harvey reached on a error to start the ninth inning. Madison Arnold, Elmwood's clean-up hitter, laid down a bunt and legged it out for a base hit. On the play, Harvey went to third base and Arnold moved to second.
“We were playing for a run. When you get your leadoff hitter on, it doesn’t matter who is up next, you’ve got to bunt,” Elmwood coach Matt Hoiles said.
Instead of walking George to load the bases, the decision was made to pitch to her. She fouled off 10 pitches in the at-bat as New London's Alex Bowers threw everything she had to George.
George finally hit the ball into fair territory, and New London third baseman Kaitlyn Spiecher threw the ball to first base, instead of throwing home as Harvey was running on contact. With no play at the plate, Harvey scored the winning run.
“I needed to get it in play so the run could score,” George said. “Miranda [Benschoter] pitched a great game. I just needed to get that run in so we could win.
“She [Bowers] threw a rise [ball], a lot of outside changeups; pretty much everything,” George added.
New London coach Chip Motolik said he talked with Bowers about walking George.
“Alex felt she could get her out. We got her to two strikes … and we just didn't make the play,” Motolik said.
“We got a nice ground ball to third base, and we just didn't make the right read.”
Benschoter and Bowers both pitched well.
Benschoter struck out 13, walked two, and allowed five singles.
Bowers struck out 11, walked one, and gave up five singles.
“Those were two great pitchers going against each other,” Hoiles said.
New London pushed across a run in the fourth inning without the benefit of a hit.
Rylee Haswell reached on a error to start the inning for the Wildcats. Benschoter got the next two outs, with Haswell advancing to second base on a fly ball to left field. Elise Chaffins hit a pop-up back to Benschoter, who dropped the ball.
Her throw to first was wide, allowing Haswell to score.
Elmwood tied the game in the bottom of the sixth.
Pinch-hitter Sarah Williams led off the inning with a single up the middle.
Benschoter moved Brandi Vargas, who ran for Williams, to second with a sacrifice bunt.
Olivia Myers ripped a hard-hit ball to second baseman Chaffins. On the base hit, Vargas ran through a stop sign from Hoiles at third to tie the game.
New London had a batter reach in each of the last three innings of the game, but Benschoter and Elmwood's defense held the Wildcats scoreless.
Catcher Chelsie Schmitz threw out a runner attempting to steal in the eighth inning while left fielder Jasmine Marsh and center fielder Madison Arnold each made a nice running catch in the ninth inning.