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Springfield loses lead, then game

05/30/2014, 12:33am EDT
By MARK MONROE BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Blue Devils, up 11 runs, ousted from tourney

CLYDE — After Springfield squandered an 11-run cushion to suffer another stunning and unfathomable loss on Thursday, the Blue Devils sure seem cursed.

Springfield (23-4) was two outs away from ending a Division I softball regional semifinal by the mercy rule as the Blue Devils held a seemingly insurmountable 11-0 lead over Brecksville-Broadview Heights (29-2) in the fifth inning.

But the No. 2-ranked Bees battled back with nine runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth to hand the Blue Devils a devastating 13-12 loss at Clyde High School.

Springfield senior pitcher Lauren Yates recorded one out in the fifth as the Blue Devils looked to end it by the run rule. But Yates hit two batters and allowed a single and double to start the Bees' nine-run uprising. Two errors compounded the collapse and Yates, who allowed four runs in the fateful inning, was replaced by freshman Paige LaPoint.

But Brecksville's No. 9 hitter Morgan Fadel, blasted a grand slam to make it 11-9.

Brecksville completed the amazing comeback with four runs on four hits in the sixth. The Bees scored two more runs off of LaPoint to tie it at 11. Yates then came back in to pitch, but Brecksville's Alexis Mack doubled in two runs as the Bees took a 13-11 lead.

“We don't have anyone to blame but ourselves,” Springfield coach Rob Gwozdz said. “It's a tough loss. We were two outs away from closing it down, and we had a couple of hit batters and a couple of errors and then they hit the grand slam. Sports are full of luck and momentum, and they got it going.”

The collapse overshadowed a 13-hit performance by the Blue Devils.

Junior shortstop Hannah Girlie smacked a grand slam that gave the Blue Devils the 11-0 advantage.

Girlie went 4 for 4 with the home run, a double, and drove in five runs.

“We didn't close the deal like we should have,” Girlie said. “We scored 11 runs, and it got into our heads that we were a half-inning away from mercying them. Never in a million years did I think that'd happen. I give them credit. We just didn't get the job done, and we should have.”

Springfield scored one run in the seventh, but could not tie it.

“It is the greatest comeback that I have ever seen in any game,” Brecksville coach Rex Mack said. “It's a testimony to the chemistry of these girls. I hate to say it, but even when we were down seven I still wasn't all that worried because we've come back before and I knew we had fight. There was never a time where they got down.”

Bre Buck, LaPoint, and Lexi Buck each had two hits for Springfield. LaPoint had a double and drove in two runs. Both Buck sisters also had RBIs.

Springfield gave up 13 hits, including 10 in the final two innings.

The Blue Devils, who finished the season ranked No. 6 in the state poll, had suffered upset losses in the districts the past two seasons.

Springfield got off to a terrific start, scoring three runs in the first and forcing Brecksville starter Nicole Best to throw 32 pitches. Kiley Aller, Libby Mathewson, and Girlie had three straight hits to lead off the game.

The Blue Devils drove Best out of the game in the third after she had already thrown 69 pitches. Springfield scored two runs with two outs. LaPoint had an RBI double and Lexi Buck had an RBI single.

The Blue Devils looked to have put it away with a six-run fifth inning. They ripped off five hits. Bre Buck doubled in one run, and LaPoint made it 7-0 with an RBI single.

The Bees then went to a third pitcher, and Girlie responded with a bomb. The no-doubt, grand slam traveled about 230 feet.

But the Bees erupted for six hits in the bottom of the fifth. None was bigger than the grand slam by Fadel.

“We started scoring and we didn't stop,” Fadel said. “A good team doesn't go away. We wanted to make our mark. We're in tears of joys right now because we thought this was going to be our last game.”

Gwozdz said it was a great feeling to get back to regionals for the first time since 2010.

“Heartbreakers come with having a good program. There are a lot of teams that would like to be our shoes,” he said.

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.

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