ATHENS – Somebody had to win.
It’s a cliché that exists because of games like Wednesday night’s Division II district softball final between Unioto and Fairfield Union.
In a tense, back-and-forth affair that took eleven innings to decide a winner, Fairfield Union ultimately came out on top, 3-2.
Neither team gained much of an advantage through three innings.
Each team threatened at times, but every time runners were in scoring position, the opposing defense rose to the occasion.
In the fourth inning, Unioto struck first with a Jordyn Pierce RBI single to give them a 1-0 lead. They held that lead until the bottom of the seventh, when Mikayla Kriner was able to get on base with a triple for the Falcons before Alexis Woodside bunted her across, to tie the game at one and send it to extra innings.
It was the extra time that saw the Falcons finally begin to take momentum, though the Shermans didn’t go quietly into the night.
After the Falcons (15-4) went up 2-1 with a Shayla Munyan RBI double in the top of the eighth, Brooke Blevins scored on a sacrifice bunt via Pierce tying the game once again, this time at two runs apiece, to force a ninth.
It wasn’t until the top of the 11th that Fairfield Union finally took control for good, with a Maddie Lewis RBI double to seal the deal on a hard fought 3-2 victory.
To say this was a pitcher’s duel would be inaccurate only because there were more than two pitchers involved — there were three.
The Falcons used a rotation of two pitchers for a great effect all evening long. Kirkland Rossiter and Alexis Eden shared the mound for Fairfield Union, with Rossiter getting the start and Eden coming in periodically to keep the Tanks off balance.
Eden officially got the win, but it was a collaborative effort to say the least. The duo remained in control throughout the game, collectively holding Unioto to just four hits while also only giving up three walks.
For Unioto (20-6), junior Brooke Blevins was as dominant as any losing pitcher could be.
Blevins proved that her District Player of the Year award was no fluke and then some, pitching the entire game and finishing with 17 strikeouts to one walk while allowing three runs.
“She’s a bulldog,” Unioto coach Brad Jadwin said in praise of his star pitcher.
Falcons’ coach Don Holbrooke was complimentary of Blevins, saying she was “the best pitcher we’ve faced all year.”
Unfortunately for Blevins and her Shermans, the effort came in a season-ending loss.
Jadwin, however, left with his head held high. “We’ve improved all year long. I’m proud of what we’ve done. We’ve had a great run. Now I’m hoping this makes them hungry for next year.”
Holbrooke also felt good about his team, and for good reason—they’re the district champions.
“When we get down, it doesn’t matter,” he shared in a post-game radio interview, and that mental resolve was key in the win tonight.
Leading the way for the Falcons were Shayla Munyan and Maddie Lewis. Munyan caught the entire game and scored the decisive run late in the game while going 2-5 at the plate with an RBI double. Lewis was 1-5 on the day, but her one hit was an RBI double to give the Falcons the lead for good. MiKayla Kriner also had a good day at the plate, going 2-4 with two triples and a walk.
Fairfield Union will now play at in a Division II regional semifinal where they will face the winner of the Warsaw district, May 27 at 5:00 pm, at Pickerington Central High School.