By Josh Brown
TROY — For four innings, Piqua hung with the Troy softball team Monday.
But then the Trojan seniors decided they’d had enough.
Troy sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs during a decisive rally in the bottom of the fifth inning to turn a 3-0 lead into a nine-run one, Hallie Snyder and the Trojan defense got out of every jam unscathed and a bases-loaded walk in the sixth provided Troy with a literal walkoff Senior Day victory over the rival Indians, 10-0 Monday at Market Street Diamond.
With the score 3-0 after four-and-a-half innings, Troy (11-9, 9-4 Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division) saw its first five batters in the bottom of the fifth reach and a pair of runs score before one out was finally recorded on a run-scoring fielder’s choice, and then the Trojans tacked on three more runs before the inning finally ended, giving them a commanding 9-0 lead over Piqua (6-17, 5-9 GWOC American North) and finished it from there.
“That was huge. We were up 3-0, and I’m thinking this is going to be a ballgame,” Troy coach Scott Beeler said. “But the girls finally started hitting and got some runs on the board. And it was nice to leave the seniors in for the whole game, too.”
Before the game, the Trojans honored their seven seniors: Hallie Snyder, Kearston Riley, Savannah Nelson, Cierra Ulrich, Daisy Feltner, Abby Innes and Ashley Smith — and then sent them out with not only a dominant victory, but an important one, too.
It was the sixth straight victory for the Trojans over the Indians, including a postseason win in 2016 after splitting the regular season series that year. Last year, Troy finished a two-game sweep with a 14-3 run-rule victory — and Monday’s victory, coupled with a loss by Tippecanoe to Butler, gives the Trojans sole possession of second place in the GWOC American North behind 13-0 Greenville.
“The bottom of our lineup has been struggling a little bit,” Beeler said. “Today, they all got on base. Daisy had a hit, Madelyn (Lavender) had a hit, Cierra was putting the ball in play, so that bottom part of the lineup was helping a lot today. And that was huge. That means a lot. If we can get everybody hitting, we’re a team to be reckoned with.”
With the way starting pitcher Snyder and the defense played Monday, though, any support would have been enough.
Snyder struck out seven and scattered two hits and four walks in her six innings of work, getting a pair of impressive catches for Lavender in left field — including a diving one in the fourth inning that prevented a double.
Piqua had its best chance to score in the second inning. Hannah Anderson led off with a single, Kamy Trissell drew a two-out walk and Haleigh Beougher singled to load the bases. But Snyder recorded a punchout on the final batter of the inning — her fifth in the first two innings — to strike out the side and preserve a 1-0 lead at the time.
“We went up to Graham this weekend, and it was cold on Saturday. And Hallie told me ‘coach, I’m going to throw well on Monday — because it’s supposed to be warm,’” Beeler said. “Today was one of the best games that we’ve seen Hallie pitch this year. She was really snapping the ball and making good pitches, good decisions. We let (catcher) Kearston and Hallie call the pitches — we don’t call them for them. And they’re doing a good job right now.”
The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, cashing in a leadoff single by Megan Malott on an RBI squeeze bunt by Josie Rohlfs. Then in the third, Rohlfs led off with a double, was doubled home by Nelson and Paige Nadolny followed with an RBI single to make it a 3-0 game.
The Indians had one more quality chance on offense in the top of the fifth. Beougher reached on a two-base error to lead off and took third on a wild pitch. But Troy third baseman Feltner fielded a bunt and held the runner to record the first out, Snyder got a called third strike for the second out and then the runner was thrown out by Riley at the plate trying to score on another wild pitch to erase the threat.
That play seemed to deflate Piqua’s sails, and the Trojans took advantage in the bottom of the inning.
Rohlfs and Nelson hit back-to-back singles to start the rally and Nadolny was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Snyder and Ulrich both drew RBI walks to make it 5-0, then Lavender hit into an RBI fielder’s choice as the Indians’ only play was to take an out at third base. But Feltner followed that by ripping an RBI single to make it 6-0, an error off the bat of Malott allowed another run to score and Riley hit an RBI sac fly to make it 9-0 after five.
And in the sixth, Snyder hit a one-out single, Lavender singled with two outs and Feltner walked to load the bases, with Malott drawing an RBI walk to end the game.
Rohlfs was 2 for 2 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored and Nelson was 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored to lead a Trojan offense that saw all nine starters either record an RBI or score a run, with Malott, Riley, Nadolny, Snyder, Ulrich and Feltner each driving in one run.
Mariah Blankenship took the loss for Piqua, striking out three but giving up nine hits, six walks and a hit-by-pitch, with the defense committing five errors behind her to Troy’s one.
The Trojans travel to Piqua Tuesday to finish the series and travel to Milton-Union Wednesday before returning home to finish division play against GWOC American League crossover opponent Piqua Friday. The Trojans also drew the No. 5 seed in the upcoming sectional tournament and will host a first-round game against No. 9 Fairborn on Monday.
“We’ve got a good tournament bracket coming up, and I think this team could go far,” Beeler said. “We could win what would have been an old sectional final, the district semifinal now, and do some damage, do something a Troy softball team hasn’t done in a lot of years. We’ve reached that round two years in a row, and I don’t know the last time a Troy team has done it three in a row. We’ve got home games in the first two rounds, too, so getting that No. 5 seed is going to be huge for us.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.