CEDARVILLE — Upon learning of the history their team made, Cedarville softball coaches high-fived one another and seemingly couldn’t have had larger smiles on their faces.
Eleven years after the program’s last postseason win, the fourth-seeded Indians got over the hump and are advancing in Division IV sectional tournament play after run-ruling seven-seed New Miami 12-2 at home on Tuesday.
The Indians have been exceeding marks all season and Tuesday’s win checked several more boxes.
Prior to the start of the season, Cedarville players and coaches weren’t exactly sure how long it had been since winning in sectional play, but they had set out to end that losing streak which sat at nine games after a district title game defeat in 2012. The team also hoped to reach 10 wins on the season.
One run from victory and with one dash to the plate, it was check and check on meeting those goals.
“Proud to be on this team,” Brooke Atkins, who made the start in the circle and allowed just two hits with seven strikeouts, said. “Just very proud of the work we put in and also to get the goal to get 10 wins.”
Cedarville scored 10 runs in the first inning after its initial nine batters all reached on seven hits and two walks.
The offense stalled in the middle innings as Cedarville didn’t score again until the fifth. Atkins had a chance to walk it off with two runners on, but New Miami’s defense, which had been stellar at denying multiple opportunities at hits after the first inning, made another play to extend the game.
Elizabeth Caraway beat out a close call at first to start the sixth and dashed to third on a pickoff attempt Chloe Miller at first two batters later. It led to an intentional walk of Adyson Rodgers to load the bases with no outs.
Adeline Spracklen trickled a ball across the infield toward short, and while unspectacular, it was all that was needed for Caraway to sprint home and slide across the plate before the ball arrived on the force attempt against the drawn in infield.
“I was thinking, ‘please be safe,’ but I knew we didn’t have an out and if it didn’t happen there, I knew Brenna [Atkins] would have done it,” head coach Hailey Webb said.
Back in the preseason, wanting to reach double digit wins from an outsiders perspective seemed like the type of goal that would be similar to winning a wild goose chase.
Numerous handicaps were in Cedarville’s corner. A program that hadn’t won a game in nearly three years after sitting out for two and going 0-19 a year ago in a restart, nine freshman making up two-thirds of the roster and another first-year coach leading the way to boot.
Yet the lofty goals were made clear at the start, according to Webb. Tuesday’s win accomplished both and leaves room for one other that was initially on the list and still can be revisited: Claiming a district title.
A sectional final matchup with No. 1-seed Southeastern awaits on Thursday first, which the Indians played closely on Monday in a regular season game.
Winning that game would make what has already been a successful season be elevated even higher. But no matter what happens, Cedarville in one season has already made goals obtainable what a year ago seemed far off.
“I know we’ve been told that we’ve pretty much exceeded standards, but all three of us are not okay with just exceeding those standards,” Webb said in reference to her fellow coaches. “We want to do beyond that, so next year our goals will be bigger and the year after that our goals are even bigger than that.”
FINAL: No. 4 Cedarville 12, No. 7 New Miami 2.
Adeline Spracklen gets the walk-off hit in the sixth inning as the Indians win their first tournament game in 11 years. Cedarville faces No. 1 Southeastern on Thursday. pic.twitter.com/bKASrxJM3T
— Steven Wright (@Steven_Wright_) May 9, 2023
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.