By Josh Brown
TROY — After Monday’s loss at Piqua, Troy softball coach Dan Cain said “tomorrow is a new day.”
It most certainly was.
After leaving five runners in scoring position in a 3-0 loss at Piqua on Monday — a game which guaranteed the Indians at least a share of the Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division title — the Trojans (13-8, 8-2 GWOC North) bounced back and held off a late Piqua rally for a 12-10 victory Tuesday at Market Street Diamond to win themselves a share of the title, as well.
Troy, Piqua (17-5, 8-2 GWOC North) and Greenville all share the title with 8-2 records. It’s Troy softball’s first division title since 2003.
“It was (a new day),” Cain said. “It was a total team win. I’m proud of all the girls.”
In Monday’s game, Piqua senior Reynna Lavey drove in all three runs — and all three with two outs.
After leadoff hitter Megan Anderson reached on an error, was bunted to second and moved to third on a wild pitch, Lavey laced an RBI double down the left field line to give the Indians an early 1-0 lead.
Troy starter Natalie Henson retired the next six straight batters, but with two outs in the bottom of the third, Alyssa Jones blooped in a single — and Lavey yanked a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left, a two-run shot that made it a 3-0 game.
“The way the game started, we booted a ball at short and they ended up scoring that run,” Troy coach Dan Cain said. “Then we got behind in the count to Lavey, had to give her something good, and she crushed it.”
The Trojans, meanwhile, could not find a way to get runners home against Piqua’s Kyla Blankenship despite a number of chances, leaving seven runners on base in the game — five in scoring position. Of Blankenship’s six strikeouts in the game, five came with runners in scoring position.
“We knew we had to hit with them to win, but we left seven girls on base,” Cain said. “Even the meat of our order just couldn’t get the big hit. She (Blankenship) got big strikeouts. She struck out Savannah (Nelson) twice in the game with runners on, and she’s one of our big hitters.”
In the top of the first, Lauryn Rutan hit a two-out single, took second on a passed ball and stole third, but Nelson — the GWOC North leader in home runs with four and RBIs with 39 going into the game — struck out to end the threat.
And in the top of the fourth, Josie Rohlfs doubled to the fence in center to lead off and Rutan singled again, stealing second to put runners on second and third with no outs. Nelson battled with Blankenship but ended up striking out swinging on a full count, then Piqua shortstop Jones made an outstanding diving catch on a looping line drive for the second out of the inning. Kearston Riley reached on an error to load the bases, but Blankenship struck out the next hitter to escape the jam unharmed.
“In hindsight, second and third with no outs and my No. 4 hitter up, maybe we put a bunt down,” Cain said. “Put a ball in play, try to get one run home. Maybe that’s something I think about tomorrow now. But we didn’t execute our bunts today like we wanted. And twice in the bottom of the order, we struck out looking with runners on base. We just didn’t execute today.”
Troy left Lainee Poling, who had walked and stole second, stranded in scoring position in the top of the fifth. The Trojans threatened one last time in the top of the seventh after Riley drew a leadoff walk and Brooke Beeler singled, but a swinging strikeout, a looking strikeout and a grounder to third ended the game.
“The good news is we’re playing for a league title tomorrow still,” Cain said. “And, depending on how their first-round tournament game goes, we may get to play them three times this year. But tomorrow is a new day, and we’re going to have to play well to beat them.”
And that they did.
Lauryn Rutan and Natalie Henson both hit two-run homers in the first inning, then Rutan hit a two-run inside-the-park home run in the second inning to put the Trojans up 6-2 — a lead that ballooned all the way to 10-2 after three innings.
“We got up 10-2, but I knew Piqua wasn’t going away,” Cain said. “It took us four pitchers to win this game. Luckily, we have five of them, but it took four to get this one. We struggled with our control, and that got them jump started a little bit.”
Lavey came up with the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, and the Trojans walked her unintentionally. Piqua only got two runs in that inning, closing the gap to 10-4. Later in the game, Lavey drew an intentional walk that loaded the bases, and the Indians got two runs during that inning, as well.
“After yesterday, I wasn’t about to let her get us again,” Cain said. “We’d walked her once earlier unintentionally, so she drew two walks in this one. We knew they would keep hitting, and we had to keep scoring with them.”
Piqua put together a four-run rally in the fifth to cut the lead to 10-8, and the Trojans got out of a first-and-third jam in the sixth to keep it that way. Then in the bottom of the sixth, Goodwin hit an RBI double to give the Trojans some much-needed insurance, then she scored on an RBI single by Camryn Moeller to make it 12-8 Troy. Piqua scored a pair of runs in the top of the seventh, but the Trojans were able to close out the win.
Rutan finished 2 for 4 with two homers and four RBIs, Moeller was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and three runs scored, Henson had a home run and two RBIs, Savannah Nelson was 3 for 4, Goodwin doubled and had two RBIs and two runs scored, Riley doubled and Poling scored two runs.
“Yesterday, we didn’t have any big hits. Today, lots of girls had them,” Cain said. “Lauryn had a couple of big hits today. Sara Goodwin, struck out twice yesterday, had struck out twice today, comes up in the sixth and hits a big double over a drawn-in infield. Then Moeller comes up with a big hit and did a nice job pitching. This was a team win today.”
Troy travels to West Liberty-Salem on Thursday then to Houston for a Friday-Saturday tournament to close the regular season. The Trojans then await the winner between Piqua and Fairmont in the second round of the sectional tournament.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.