Bucyrus pitcher Taylor Rossman did what she had done all year — keep the opponent off the scoreboard.
But this time, her opposite number, New London’s Alec Bowers, matched Rossman pitch-for-pitch, for eight innings.
With two outs in the ninth inning, the Wildcats’ catcher Taylor Moody laced a double to the fence down the left field line, which scored Rylee Haswell all the way from first, to provide New London with a 1-0 victory in the Division III district title game at Joe Wilson Field.
“I told the girls when you get this far, you’re going to see some good pitchers,” New London coach Chip Motolik said. “We knew there wouldn’t be many runs.”
So evenly matched were the teams that, save for Moody’s double, the game may have eventually been called for darkness.
“It was a well-played game,” Bucyrus coach Jerry Hargis said. “It comes down to getting a hit. It was a great game, but somebody had to win.”
Hits, let alone runs, were scarce in this one. The ninth was the only inning in which the Wildcats had two hits — or even two base runners — in the same inning.
Likewise, the Redman had only five base runners for the game.
Jackie Gabriel led off the bottom of the first with a walk. She stole second with two outs, but was stranded there. After that, Bowers retired 12 of 13 Bucyrus (21-6) batters from innings two through five. The only hitter to reach was Loarel Mollenkopf, who was safe on Bowers’ own error with one out in the third.
Other than the error, Bowers gave no quarter. She struck out 12 and walked only Gabriel, the first batter she faced. The Redmen managed only three hits, though two came in the sixth after two were out.
Nikki Tuttle dropped an opposite-field single to left, then Macey Sheerer followed with a single. Laney Mollenkopf then hit a line drive right at the first baseman for the third out.
“Our defense has been playing strong,” Motolik said. “We made two errors against Mohawk (in the district semifinal). I knew we wouldn’t do that tonight.”
The only other Bucyrus hit was a two-out single by Gabriel in the eighth. She stole second, but Bowers cleanly fielded Nikki Tuttle’s one-hop smash to the mound to end the inning.
“The hardest balls we hit were caught,” Hargis said. “Their pitcher had a little curve ball off the corner and she came inside if we crowded the plate. She did a good job.”
Rossman pitched well enough to win on almost any other night. The senior left her calling card, fanning 14 and walking only one.
New London (20-5) got singles from Kaitlyn Speicher in the first, Kelly Norrod in the second and Moody in the seventh. Speciher also got a one-out single in the ninth but was erased on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Haswell, before Moody doubled home the only run of the game.
Redmen catcher Roni Agler threw out two would-be base stealers, one in each of the sixth and seventh innings to stifle potential Wildcat scoring threats. Bucyrus also played flawless defense, but the bats just never got going.
“This is an awesome feeling,” Motolik said.” “I’m very proud of these young ladies. They’ve battled all year. I told them before the season started that they were good enough to get to the district final. I told them to put their thumb print on this program.”
Sheerer, Laney Mollenkopf, Rossman, Agler, Hannah Wyeth and Ciara Awbrey all played their final games for Bucyrus.
“These are a bunch of kids we’re going to miss,” Hargis said. “They played the game right. But we have great numbers in the program. We’ll be back.”
The six seniors leave with a four-year record of 78-19 and two district runners-up trophies.
New London advances to the regional Wednesday at Fostoria, where the opponent will be Archbold-Elmwood winner.
“This senior group has been outstanding,” Hargis added. “New London hung in there and hung in there. They finally got the break, we didn’t.”