By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy softball coach Scott Beeler knows the Piqua that his Trojans saw Tuesday was not indicative of who the Indians really are.
After all, just last season the two teams both earned a share of the division title.
But even though the Indians jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the top of the first, the Trojans (12-10, 9-5 Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division) answered with five in the bottom of the inning and put the game away with a nine-run third to seal a dominant 14-3 run-rule victory and complete the season sweep over rival Piqua Tuesday at Market Street Diamond.
Last year, the rivalry was incredibly even, with Troy and Piqua splitting the regular season series — Troy lost the opener 3-0 then won 12-10 to force a three-way tie between the Trojans, Indians and Greenville Green Wave for the division title — and then the Trojans winning 2-1 in the sectional tournament.
And even just the day before on Monday, the Trojans had to come from behind twice to narrowly defeat the Indians (11-14, 6-8 GWOC American North) 9-6 to begin this year’s series. But with Piqua starter Mariah Blankenship — tied for second in the GWOC in wins with 11 on the year — unable to pitch, the Indians were simply a different team.
“This is not representative of Piqua softball — and I told (Piqua coach Rick) Claprood that,” Beeler said. “I fully respect their team, and I know this isn’t who they are. They had an injury to their No. 1 pitcher, and Mariah (Blankenship) couldn’t throw.
“But then again, we had to come out and hit that slower pitcher, and the girls were able to do that. They got the runs that we needed, and it was good for us.”
Just as good for the Trojans was how their own ace, Hallie Snyder, performed. After a rough first inning, Snyder settled in and only allowed four hits, no walks and one hit batter in the game while striking out two.
“I don’t know if Piqua was deflated (after Monday’s game), or if it was just our pitching,” Beeler said. “Hallie had control tonight. She did hit the first batter, but she pitched well. She had good location, and they didn’t get up in the count on her. She was in control of the count all night, got up on their hitters — and that helps as a pitcher. You can start moving the ball around and trying to get them to swing at your pitches. She’s doing a lot better here at the end of the season.”
The Indians jumped out in front, though. Lexi Gordon began the game by getting hit by a pitch and Alyssa Jones beat out an infield single, then a one-out dropped fly ball off the bat of Mariah Blankenship allowed a run to score. Rayna Brownlee drove in another run with an RBi groundout, and Piqua led 2-0.
Troy’s answer was swift and devastating.
Josie Rohlfs led off the bottom of the first with a double, then Megan Malott singled and stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Savannah Nelson then continued her late-season tear, hammering a one-out, two-run single to left to even the score. Lauryn Rutan followed with a single, then Madison Potts, Snyder and Skylar Kline hit back-to-back-to-back RBI singles to put Troy up 5-2.
Piqua cut into the lead in the top of the third with a brief two-out rally as Kendra Forness doubled and Blankenship hit an RBI single to drive her home to make it 5-3. But that was as close as the Indians got as the Trojans used six hits, four walks, a hit batter and two Piqua errors to plate nine runs in the bottom of the third.
Snyder led off with a single and advanced to third on two wild pitches, then Kline walked and stole second. No. 9 hitter Molly Miller cashed them both in immediately, driving the ball off the fence in left for a two-run double. A walk and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out, and Nelson planted a tw0-run double down the line in left to make it a six-run game.
Rutan followed with with an RBI double, then Potts and Snyder blooped in back-to-back RBI singles to make it 12-3. After a pair of walks reloaded the bases, an error on a grounder to second allowed two more runs to score, and the Trojans led 14-3 — and Snyder closed the game out on the mound from there.
Alyssa Jones — who entered the game with a 0.00 ERA in two appearances — started and took the loss, going three innings and giving up 14 runs on 14 hits, four walks and a hit batter, as well as four errors on defense.
For the Trojans, Nelson finished the game 3 for 4 with a double and four RBIs, Snyder was 3 for 3 with two RBIs, Potts was 2 for 3 with two RBIs, Rutan was 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI, Miller was 1 for 2 with a double and an RBI, Kline was 1 for 1 with an RBI and Rohlfs was 1 for 3 with a double. Six different Trojans — Rohlfs, Nelson, Rutan, Potts, Snyder and Kline — each scored two runs.
“Lauryn and Savannah, they’re both hitting the ball well right now, which is good going into the tournament,” Beeler said. “Our first tournament game is going to be either Tecumseh or Beavercreek. Going into that game knowing that those two are hitting — heck, everyone is hitting the ball. Molly Miller hit one off the fence tonight. I never would’ve thought Molly had that power in her. Everyone is hitting the ball well, and everyone is playing good defense. It’s all coming together.”
The win puts Troy in a tie for third place in the division with Sidney at 9-5, with one league game remaining for each. The Trojans finish the regular season with five road games, beginning Thursday at Northmont.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.