BY JOHN DUBOIS
It is often said that its hard to beat a quality opponent three times in the same season and the third-seeded Westville Tigers proved that saying to be true avenging two earlier losses with a 5-4 win over the second seeded Georgetown-RidgeFarm/Chrisman Buffaloes in a IHSA Class 2A regional semifinal.
Olney Central Community College signee Carson Richardson threw four scoreless innings in her second relief stint to get the win and Morgan Gallion made a game-saving catch on a pop up to end the game. Kylie Lesko started for the Tigers and went 1 and 1/3 innings, Richardson came in for 2/3 of inning, Lesko returned for 2/3 of an inning and then Richardson closed out the game.
“We did that some last year and I am used to coming into games more than once,” Richardson said. “We had been on a four-game losing streak overall and lost by 10 runs and four runs to Georgetown, which makes this win even more special. We haven’t been playing our best, but I think today we played one of our best overall team games.”
Tigers coach Shawn Skinner had prepared his team to expect anything.
“For the last two days, we have been telling the kids to just be ready for absolutely anything,” he said. “We were going to do our best as coaches to put the team in the best position to win. We had talked about the way we used Kylie and Carson today but we didn’t want to reveal anything until the game. Carson is a tough senior and she is ready anytime we need to call on her.”
Sparked by a two-run double from Ashley Hoffman, the Tigers took a 3-0 lead in the top of the second. The Buffaloes would answer back with two in the bottom of the inning with a run scoring bunt from Emilee Campbell and an infield single from Megan Burris.
The Buffaloes would take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the third when Brittany Hay was walked with the bases loaded and Tristyn Mingee was hit by a pitch. Fellow Olney Central signee Danielle Gabehart would get a one-out single in the top of the fourth, setting the stage for a two out two run single by Richardson that accounted for the final margin.
The Tigers walked Hay four times but elected to pitch to her leading off the seventh inning. Hay lined out hard to deep left-center.
“You walk Brittany Hay leading off and she is on third,” Skinner said. “We had worked to hard in this game to let it get tied and go into extra innings. The major league style shift we put on worked, and Lauren Scott made a really nice catch.”
Gallion avoided a collision with two other Tigers to make the game ending catch.
“Morgan is playing her first year at second base and she showed great effort on that play and made a great catch,” Skinner said. “We had a great defensive effort all around tonight with Ashley Hoffman at third and Bobbi Morris at short each making some good plays.”
For the Buffaloes, it was a game of missed opportunities as they left 15 runners on base and nine in scoring position.
“We knew what we were facing today having to beat Westville for a third time,” said Buffaloes coach Stephanie Davis. “The runners left on base were of course the key to the game.”
The Buffaloes end their season with a record of 16-7 and it was the final game for seniors Madison Cramer, Emilee Campbell, Maya Green, Callan Hall, and Catie Brandt.
“I want to thank all of the seniors for all of their hard work,” said Davis. “They were team leaders and did a great job helping us accomplish what were able to accomplish this season. I wish them all the best of luck.”
The Tigers move to 13-9 and will face the top seeded St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans for the regional championship at Bismarck at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
“We believed in ourselves as a team today,” said Richardson. “Now we are going to have a chance to play for a regional championship one day before graduation.”
For Skinner, it’s a whole new season.
“To me our record is 1-0,” Skinner said. “Overall our season hasn’t gone the way we thought it would, but this is a brand new season and now we are playing for a regional title.”