GREENVILLE – The No. 10 state ranked Bradford Lady Railroaders came into the OHSAA Division IV Sectional Championship game as underdogs to the No. 3 Parkway Lady Panthers but would put a history making 12-1 six inning run-rule win over the Midwest Athletic Conference (MAC) school and reach the final four – a first for a Lady Railroaders softball program.
“It’s amazing,” Bradford coach Shon Schaffer said following the game. “I told the girls the last two days in practice this is going to be a one run ballgame. It’s going to be nerves, it’s going to be tight. Just to hang in there the entire game because it’s going to be a long drawn out affair – and I was wrong.”
Bradford freshman Skipp Miller went the distance on the mound allowing two hits and one earned run to earn the regional win played at Greenville’s Lady Wave Stadium.
The teams played scoreless ball through two innings before Emma Canan hit a one-out single and raced home on an RBI single off the bat of Miller in the gap, her second single of the game.
Bradford took advantage of a of a Bianca Keener RBI double to make it a 2-0 game with the Lady Panthers coming to the plate in the bottom of the third.
Inning No. 4 saw Parkway’s defensive strategy backfire allowing Bradford to open-up a 6-0 lead. With Chelsea Gill standing on third, Emma Canan on second and two outs on the board, Parkway coach Mark Esselstein elected to intentionally walk Miller to load the bases.
“I was just thinking – next girl get a hit, get a hit, make them feel sorry for it,” Miller said of her free pass. “Payback karma.”
Wysong stepped to the plate crushing a grand slam over the left field fence giving the Lady Railroaders a six run advantage.
“I knew I had to do something,” said Wysong. “I wasn’t looking for any particular pitch – I was just up there swinging trying to put the ball in play.”
“I was just thinking we need to score more runs,” Schaffer said of the Wysong grand slam. “I thought at any given time they were going to stick four or five runs on us so at that point I was still wanting the girls to hit the ball and hit the ball and hit the ball – and wow.”
Lady Panthers’ pitcher Haley Hawk drove a solo home run deep over the right-center field fence to make it a 6-1 game after four innings of play.
With two outs in the fifth, Bradford used a Buzz Brewer single, Hannah Fout reaching by way of an error, Gill collecting an RBI single followed with a Canan 2-RBI single to lead 9-1 after five.
The Lady Railroaders made quick work of the game in the top of the sixth taking advantage of two Parkway errors and an Elisa Martinez single loading the bases for freshman Maggie Manuel to step to the plate and slam a bases-clearing three-run double giving Bradford a 12-1 lead, a lead that would hold up for the final score.
“Our team isn’t known to be the most dominant hitting team.” Schaffer noted. “To come out and put a big number up on the board against that caliber of pitching – that’s pretty special.”
For the day, eight of the Lady Railroaders’ hits came with two outs and plated eight runs with two outs on the board.
“The girls saw the ball and I don’t know what we did differently,” Schaffer said. “In batting practice we sped it up and slowed it down quite a bit – they saw the ball well.”
Bradford scored 12 runs on 14 hits and committed one error. Parkway scored 1 run on 2 hits while committing three errors.
“I had a feeling we would make it far but not as far as we are,” Miller concluded. “I never would have imagined going to state as a freshman.”
PHOTO CAPTION: OHSAA D-IV Regional Champion Bradford Lady Railroaders. (Gaylen Blosser photo)