CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — With Wednesday’s skies skewing dark at times, the Eastern Brown Warriors twice struck with two-out lightning.
Unfortunately for the Blue Angels, and as a result, it was too much of an early storm to overcome.
That’s because the Gallia Academy High School softball squad fell behind 8-0, then had its comeback bid cut short —as the Blue Angels fell to the Warriors 8-4 in a Division III district semifinal at steamy Unioto High School.
Making their initial appearance in the district round in Division III, the Blue Angels allowed two earned runs in the opening and third innings, before trailing 8-0 after Eastern amounted four more markers in the fourth.
Gallia Academy did slice the deficit in half in the bottom half — batting around while scoring all four of its runs on the aid of two walks, two hit batsmen, two of its three hits and finally a sacrifice fly.
However, in stranding five runners against a pair of Warrior pitchers, the Blue Angels went down in order 1-2-3 in the first, third and sixth stanzas — and only four batters saw the plate in the second, fifth and final frames.
With the loss, Gallia Academy’s four-game win streak was snapped, as the Blue Angels end their season at 16-8.
The Warriors raised their record to 17-5, and will now face defending Division III state champion Wheelersburg in Saturday’s district championship tilt.
For the Blue Angels, getting baserunners on Wednesday was difficult to come by —against Eastern’s hurlers Taylor Dotson and Madelinn Murphy.
Dotson, a freshman, started and pitched the first four innings — facing 19 Blue Angels and allowing four earned runs on four walks with two hits.
She was relieved by Murphy after complaining of back pain, but the only Angels off Murphy over the final three innings were pitching counterpart Bailey Meadows with a single in the fifth and GAHS starter Hunter Copley on an error in the seventh.
Trailing 2-0, the Blue Angels missed an opportunity in the second—after Meadows and Allie Young walked while Ryleigh Caldwell reached on a fielder’s choice.
Caldwell stole second and reached third on a throwing error, but Dotson got her one strikeout — combined with catching Caldwell between third and home to end the threat.
“We’ve done that a lot this season. We get some runners on base, but we leave them on. They will play good, then sometimes will back off a little bit and get complacent,” said GAHS coach Scott Stanley. “We just have to put all of our hitting together. Only three hits today. I think the slower pitchers give us trouble. We are ahead on the pitch and pulling the ball. The faster pitchers we seem to hit a lot better.”
Unfortunately for the Blue Angels, the Warriors hit Copley, who battled a hip injury for the majority of the season.
Eastern amounted all of its runs off the sophomore ace, as Copley faced 22 total batters while allowing six earned runs on six hits and five walks.
She worked the opening three and a-third, before Meadows relieved her for the final three and two-thirds — while giving up three hits.
“Hunter (Copley) struggled a little bit, but she has had a hip injury all year. She has guts and pushes through it every game. At the end of a lot of games, she comes out crying because her hip hurts so much. Today, I decided to do a switch because Hunter was hurting pretty good,” said Stanley.
Copley struck out two in the second inning, part of her only 1-2-3 at-bat, while Meadows retired the side in order in the last.
Andrea Edmisten paced the Warriors with three hits, including a two-out single in the opening inning.
Copley then walked Whitney Broughton and Rheanna Newman to load the bases, as Allison Malott mashed a two-run single.
In the third, Edmisten, Malott and Kameron Tomlin all singled and Newman drew another walk — as Malott and Tomlin tallied the two-out RBIs for a 4-0 advantage.
In the fourth, the Warriors combined a pair of leadoff walks, an error, a fielder’s choice, a passed ball, a two-run single by Broughton and an RBI-single by Newman for their four runs.
The Blue Angels finally got on the board in the fourth and made it 8-4 — when Jenna Meadows and Bailey Meadows both walked with one out, while Caldwell was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Young and Carly Shriver singled to score the Meadows sisters respectively, before Kimberly Edelmann was brushed by Dotson to cross Caldwell.
Paxton Roberts plated Young with a sacrifice fly to centerfield, but Shriver and Edelmann were left stranded at second and third —after Dotson induced an inning-ending flyout to right.
The Blue and White never seriously threatened again.
“It’s been a real good season overall. The girls, even when we got down like we did today, never gave up. They are always fighting and cheering each other on. It’s been a good dugout this year and I really appreciate the girls for that,” said Stanley.
Wednesday was also the final game for seven GAHS seniors — Shriver, Edelmann, Roberts, Caldwell, Jenna Meadows, Allie Clagg and Brooke Pasquale.
“We have seven seniors, seven great girls who we are going to miss. We have a lot to replace,” said Stanley. “All of them played a lot and most of them were starters every game. They were a fun group who always kept the dugout up and never got down any. It’s a good group of girls.”
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106