By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TIPP CITY — Tippecanoe’s Corinn Siefring had just flied out to left field. She wasn’t expecting to get another shot until her next turn in the lineup.
Instead, she went right back to the batter’s box and crushed the ball out.
“No, I definitely was not expecting (a second chance),” the sophomore said. “I was very lucky.”
Xenia’s pitcher was called for an illegal pitch on the flyout, giving Siefring another shot — and she promptly hit a shot over the left-field fence on the very next pitch for a leadoff home run to help set the tone for the game, and though the Red Devils didn’t cash in all their chances, they did get one insurance run, and pitcher Kayla Runyon made sure the Buccaneers didn’t do anything with their chances in a 2-1 Tippecanoe victory Friday in the Devils’ home opener.
It was also the Greater Western Ohio Conference American League opener for both teams, as Tippecanoe improved to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the GWOC American North Division, while Xenia fell to 2-2 and 0-1 in the GWOC American South.
Siefring, who also made two tough catches in center field in the seventh inning, finished the game 2 for 3 with a double, the homer and one RBI. And in that first at-bat, she had just gotten under the previous pitch and lifted a lazy fly ball to left, only to have a crow hop called on the Buccaneer starter and get a second chance.
“I didn’t even realize it was a home run,” Siefring said. “I was sprinting, but then I heard everyone cheering.”
“Corinn’s a strong hitter. She was second on our team in batting average last year,” Tippecanoe coach Scott Sutton said. “It was unfortunate for them that a call led to that. But Corinn struggled a little during our Tennessee trip trying to find her own, but she’s ready to go now.”
Tippecanoe struggled to string anything else together from there, though, as Xenia’s Caity Moody settled down for the most part. She only allowed five hits in the game, walked three and struck out four.
The Devils had a chance in the third after a leadoff single by Runyon and a walk by Savannah Wead. A sac fly by Siefring appeared to move them up to second and third, but the runner was called out at third on an appeal, and a flyout on the next batter ended the threat.
In the fifth, though, Tippecanoe was able to tack on one insurance run. Kaela May led off with a double, and Runyon drove her in with an RBI single to make it a 2-0 game. A one-out double by Siefring put runners on second and third, but Moody was able to get a popout and a groundout to minimize the damage.
“I was hoping to get a few more on there, because I don’t think you can count Xenia out,” Sutton said. “They’ve got a good team, great pitching, so you just never know what you’re going to get.”
Runyon, meanwhile, looked like she would make the leadoff home run stand up most of the game. Even though Xenia had at least one runner on in the first six innings, the junior worked her way out of any trouble she got into.
“That’s where our experience from last year comes in, being so young,” Sutton said. “We had six starters last year that were freshmen, so gaining that experience made a difference. Everyone stayed calm, kept their composure and knew what their job was. And we’re lucky to have Kayla back. She spent most of the season last year on injured reserve, and she’s happy to be back and throwing well.”
In the sixth, though, Xenia was finally able to dent the scoreboard, with Moody hitting a one-out double and a two-out single by Makyna Carr putting runners on the corners. Ciera Lloyd then hit a blooper to left field that Sidney Unger tried to make a play on, but after a discussion between the umpires, they ruled that the ball hit the ground, giving Lloyd an RBI double and leaving runners on second and third still, now in a one-run game.
“”I would put money on our outfield against anyone else in our conference,” Sutton said. “We have four strong outfielders, and they’re diving and making plays — and it’s just routine to them. It was unfortunate that that call went against us where they said the ball dropped and came out of her glove, but the thing is every time they come back, get back up and make the next play.”
Runyon didn’t let it bother her, though. She got a called third strike on the next batter to keep the Devils ahead by one, then she pitched a one-two-three seventh to seal the win. Runyon finished with four strikeouts and no walks and allowed one run on seven hits, while also going 2 for 2 with an RBI at the plate.
Tippecanoe opens division play against Sidney Monday at home to begin a two-game series.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.