JEFFERSON—A seventh inning power surge led Kirtland to a 6-2 win over Wickliffe in a Division III district semifinal on Tuesday at the Jefferson Area Girls Softball complex. Hallie Ward and Lindsay Ward both hit solo home runs and Morgan Faber added a two run double in the inning.
Both of the Ward sisters entered the inning 0-for-2 on the day before clearing the fence in left center field.
“That’s the thing about the Wards. We tell them you don’t need to do too much. Just go out and have a nice swing and things will happen,” said Kirtland coach Tony Scibelli. “I think that’s what ended up happening there in the seventh inning. They came out and had a nice swing and the ball, as usual, went flying.”
Faber also was 0-for-2 before she crushed a ball to left center in the seventh. She was robbed of a hit in the sixth when Wickliffe second baseman Mackenzie Ward knocked down a line drive and threw Faber out at first.
“The thing with Morgan is we tell her to be aggressive and good things will happen,” Scibelli said. “She had one that was a nice shot but the second baseman knocked it down and threw her out. The very next one and she roped it. Talk about a great freshman experience; she’s had a good year for us.”
Faber picked up the win in the circle after allowing two runs on five hits and she struck out three batters.
Kirtland, which improved to 15-3 overall, got off to a fast start when Samantha Achauer singled and Lindsay Ward was hit by a pitch with one out. Olivia Mancisio then tripled to give the Hornets a 2-0 lead.
Mancisio finished the game 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI.
“She’s a kid that we think gets overlooked a little bit in the scheme of things,” Scibelli said. “I can tell you from experience, she can hit the ball very, very hard. She’s very refined too. If you pitch her outside she’ll go the other way. She was huge for us today.”
Wickliffe got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Alyssa Johnson doubled with two outs and Katie Hopton singled to cut Kirtland’s lead in half.
The Blue Devils added one in the bottom of the seventh when Hopton singled and scored on a ground out.
“The good news is we have been in a lot of close games this year, unlike last year, and that’s really allowed us to be calm throughout the full game,” Scibelli said. “We knew eventually our bats would start to warm up a little bit. Give Wickliffe credit. They did a great job against a lot of our small ball. We’re just really happy to come away with a victory.”
Achauer finished the game 2-for-4 and Sarah Steigerwald and Rebecca Kissinger also had hits for the Hornets.
Hopton finished 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored for Wickliffe. Ward and Gia Welms also had hits for the Blue Devils.
The Hornets advanced to the Division III district championship game for the first time since 2012 and third appearance since 2006. Kirtland, which has won 12 straight sectional titles and has played in as many district tournaments, will play Champion, a 6-2 winner over Leavittsburg LaBrae, on Wednesday with a regional berth on the line.
The Golden Flashes are making their eighth straight appearance in the district championship game and won state titles in 2011 and 2012. They also ended the Hornets’ season in 2012 and 2014 in the district tournament.
“We have a lot of respect for their program and we told the girls we can only focus on what we do,” Scibelli said. “We don’t need to worry about how good they are and what they’re going to do. We can only try to execute as best as we can and see what happens.”
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- Video Interview: Hallie & Lindsay Ward
- Video Interview: Morgan Faber & Olivia Mancisio
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