XENIA — As visiting Fairborn led by two runs in the sixth inning, one of the Skyhawks coaches was heard imploring the players to go out and get another run, because they would need it before Wednesday’s May 3 battle with host Xenia was through.
The coach was right.
Fairborn needed to fend off Xenia’s final two-run attack in the bottom of the seventh to claim a 7-6 win, sweeping the home-and-home series between the two Greater Western Ohio Conference rivals.
“We did need that,” Fairborn coach Tiffany Andrews admitted after the game. “Both teams hit the ball well today. We messed up some coaching decisions — I sent a couple girls (from third) when I shouldn’t have — but the girls were hitting the ball well, and I wanted to test Xenia’s arms, especially with this cold and rainy weather.”
With two out in the top of the sixth inning, Fairborn’s Chloe Becraft drove in Kelsie Coleman from second, with a single into right field. That run ultimately proved to be the game winner.
In the bottom of the seventh and trailing 7-4, Xenia capitalized on a Skyhawk fielding error in the outfield. As a result, Sydney Smith was perched on second base. Smith made a heads up steal of third on a Fairborn pick-off attempt from the Skyhawk catcher to first base, then scored when an illegal pitch was called by the home plate umpire.
Buccaneer slugger Ella Johnson, who had bashed the game’s only homer earlier in the game, was walked. She then took second base when the illegal pitch was called against talented Fairborn reliever Kiara McConnaughey. Sage Turner then singled to short, to put Buccaneers at third and first with nobody out.
But with Skyhawks starting pitcher Taylor Rice reinserted into the game, Fairborn first baseman Coleman snared a foul ball against the fence for the Bucs’ first out of the inning, and Xenia coach John Miner did a little bit of cold weather arm testing of his own by sending Johnson home from third on the play.
Coleman fired a strike to Fairborn catcher Chloe Becraft for the first-to-home double play.
Xenia’s Abigail Shinkle then singled into center to score Turner, and pull the Buccaneers within one run of tying the game. But Rice then struck out the next Xenia batter to end the game.
“Congratulations to Fairborn. We took them to the wire again, and they made some great plays there in that final inning. This is a great rivalry. … We’re in the Sarah Huelsman tournament with them on Saturday (May 6) at Fairborn Community Park. So maybe we’ll see them again,” Xenia coach John Miner said. “Maybe the third time is the charm for us. It was a good softball game, on our Senior Night. I think our fans enjoyed it.
“Our kids took the game to the limit, and they went out playing hard.”
Unless Mother Nature has other plans, Fairborn is scheduled to host Piqua for a 5 p.m. game on Thursday, May 4. The Skyhawks then travel to Sidney for a May 5 game before taking on New Carlisle Tecumseh in the opening round of the 13th Huelsman tourney on Saturday, May 6.
Xenia has a scheduled 5 p.m. home game against Greenville on Friday May 5 before heading over to Fairborn for the Huelsman tourney.
According to the gwocsports.com website, both Fairborn and Xenia are scheduled to play Tecumseh. One game is scheduled for an 11 a.m. start; the other is set for 1 p.m.
Missed Buccaneer HR: Ella Johnson’s third inning bash was the lone home run in Wednesday’s game. But when the two teams met May 1, there were five home runs hit at Joan Dautel Field in Fairborn in the Skyhawks’ 12—11 win. Abigail Shinkle smacked a solo shot in the fifth inning of Monday’s game, but it went unmentioned in Tuesday’s paper.
Our apologies, Abigail. Nice hit!
You can reach J0hn Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.