CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — It was a bittersweet night for the West Lady Senators softball team Wednesday as they fell to the New Lexington Lady Panthers 3-2 in a close OHSAA Division III Southeast District Semifinal game.
The Lady Senators found themselves trailing early in the game, as the Lady Panthers took a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
“The first inning was our most difficult one,” Dani Coleman, West softball coach said. “We were able to respond and shut them down in the second.”
After giving up two runs in the opening inning, Portsmouth West held New Lexington to no further damage for the next two innings. The Lady Panthers only had one hitter reach safely in the second and third innings combined and that one hitter reached via an error.
New Lexington would add another run, which would ultimately decide the game, in the fourth inning. After getting a fly out to start the inning, West pitcher Taylor Coleman issued her first base-on-balls of the game, putting New Lexington’s Dickerson on first.
Dickerson later scored with two outs after Davidson reached safely with a triple.
Having gotten the run in the fourth inning, New Lexington carried a 3-0 lead in the district semifinal game as it ventured into the fifth inning.
Coleman and the rest of the West defense helped retire the next six batters in order, before heading to the top of the seventh inning.
West needed three runs to stay alive in tournament play and only had three outs left to get those runs.
Makayla White got things going for West with a one-out single, which was followed by a Terra Butcher walk. With one out in the inning, the Lady Senators had runners on first and second.
Hannah Mayberry came up to the plate and hit a grounder to the shortstop, but still nearly beat out the throw for the second out.
The West coaching staff asked the home plate umpire about the play claiming the ball first hit Mayberry’s foot, which would result in a foul ball. After a brief conference, the three umpires decided the play would stand as called resulting in an out.
Taylor Coleman didn’t let the second out phase her, as she drew a walk after working a full count, to load the bases for West.
Briana Bricker came up big for West as the young freshman showed great batting poise sending a pitch deep in the outfield to bring in two runs for West, scoring White and Butcher.
However, the rally would end there for Portsmouth West, as New Lexington then recorded the final out of the game to end the Lady Senators season.
Going into Wednesday evening’s game, Dani Coleman said her team worked on mental toughness and being cool, confident and competitive.
“They were less anxious at the plate today,” Coleman said. “At first they wanted to kind of swing at everything, but then they settled in. We had some really good hits, but we just couldn’t deliver.”
Sophomore Taylor Coleman pitched all six innings New Lexington hit, allowing three runs, one earned. She gave up three hits to the Lady Panthers and walked three, with one walk coming from hitting the leadoff hitter with a pitch to start the game.
Dani Coleman said the young pitcher had some issues with locating her pitches to start off the game, as she seemed to be throwing lower than normal.
“She settled in pretty quickly,” Coleman said. “The rest of the game she did very well. She limited them to three hits.”
Coleman credited Makayla White with helping settle Taylor in the game.
“Her and Taylor work together really well,” Coleman said. “They’re the same age so they’ll have a good future about them. Makayla is a very take-charge kind of player on the field. She keeps Taylor really grounded.”
Taylor did show shut-down tendencies in the game, racking up five strikeouts in the loss.
West finished with three hits in the game. They were led by Kelsie Callihan, Butcher and White. The trio were responsible for all three West hits.
Callihan reached on a single in the fifth inning, finishing the night with a 1-for-3 performance.
Butcher hit a double in the second inning, but was unable to score as the next two batters resulted in outs to end the inning. She ended up going 1-for-2 on the evening and scored one of the two runs in the seventh.
White started the offense for Portsmouth West in the seventh inning, reaching on a single. She would later score in the inning and finished the night going 1-for-3 at the plate.
Dani Coleman and the Portsmouth West Lady Senators will lose three seniors to graduation, Callihan, Hannah Mayberry and Kassidy Parr.
“They came in as team leaders,” Coleman said. “They came into their senior year with a new coaching staff and were very open to it and to the whole team concept. They’ve been wonderful with our girls.”
Coleman said her seniors were instrumental in developing the freshmen on the team, taking several under their wings during the season.
“They’re all very dedicated to ball and to whatever you ask them to do, they did it, without question,” Coleman said. “They’re very good academically and are just really stand-up, straight-up girls. I wish them well in their future.”
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.