Shaina Reed wasn’t at her best Tuesday. But she found a way to get it done when it mattered most.
The sophomore right-hander recovered from a wild first inning to get a couple of hits, score a couple of runs and get some big outs in the final two innings as Polytech held off Sussex Tech 3-1 in the quarterfinals of the DIAA Softball State Tournament.
The fourth-seeded Panthers (19-1) will meet top-seeded Caravel in the semifinals on Friday, at a site and time to be determined. No. 12 seed Sussex Tech put up a spirited defense of its 2012 state title and finished 12-8.
“We had a couple of close games toward the end of the season, and I think that helped them get mentally prepared for some of these tougher games in the state tournament,” Polytech coach Jenn Bradshaw said. “Every game is a lot tougher in the state tournament. Every game matters a whole lot more.”
Reed couldn’t find the strike zone in the first inning, missing wildly both low and high. The Ravens’ Megan Callahan walked, moved to third on two wild pitches and scored on an error to put the Panthers in a 1-0 hole.
“First inning, I was pretty much all over the place,” Reed said. “I couldn’t get my spots right, I walked a few people, they got nice hits off of me. [Catcher] Alex [Mycek] told me I just had to settle down.”
Reed did just that, and launched a Polytech rally with a one-out single in the fourth. Mycek followed with a single, and one batter later freshman Whitney DeMora singled up the middle to score Reed. Taylor Humphries followed with another RBI single to push the Panthers ahead 2-1.
But the drama was far from over. Sussex Tech loaded the bases in the sixth on two walks and an error, only to see Reed dig down and get a strikeout to end the threat.
“I’ve had the bases loaded on me a lot of times in tight games,” Reed said. “I try to block it all out, and that’s what I did there. … I was zoned in.”
Reed and Mycek singled again to lead off the Polytech sixth, and DeMora came through with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.
But the Ravens’ Callahan and Torrie Huk singled to lead off the top of the seventh.
Nicole Ullman moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt, but Lauren Genshaw popped back to Reed and Courtney Tate grounded sharply to shortstop Tori Reed for the final out.
“They’re very good hitters,” Shaina Reed said of Sussex Tech. “But I knew if I could pitch it to where they put it on the ground, my girls would get it. It wasn’t all about the strikeouts then. It was about getting outs.”