By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
BRADFORD —- The Bradford softball team got the deja vu they were looking for —- and Newton did not.
And with one swing of the bat, Elisa Martinez shook up the CCC softball standings Thursday at Bradford High School.
Bradford was trailing 2-1 in the home fifth inning, when Newton coach Mark Gibson elected to walk Austy Miller to load the bases with two outs.
“You walk Austy (Miller) in that situation because she is the best hitter on the team,” Gibson said. “You take your chances with the next batter.”
Ironically, Bradford catcher Elisa Martinez had witnessed the same thing happen in Bradford’s regional final win a year ago, when Skipp Miller was intentionally walked and Bailey Wysong responded with a grand slam.
“I was thinking about that and what Bailey (Wysong) did,” Martinez said. “I was thinking I have got to hit the ball.”
After working the count full, Martinez did exactly that, sending the ball over the leftfield fence to give Bradford a 5-2 lead and pave the way to a 6-4 victory.
“I was thinking I was going to have to hit whatever pitch she threw me,” Martinez said. “And that is exactly what I did. That was an amazing feeling (seeing the ball go over the fence). It feels really good.”
Gibson knows his strategy was good.
“We did the same thing in the sixth inning and it worked,” he said about walking Miller intentionally. “You just have to tip your hat to the girl (Elisa Martinez). I think Erin (Norman) got the pitch a little up and she hit it over the leftfield fence. That was basically the game right there.”
The Railroaders —- despite being down to their fourth pitcher — now improve to 11-2-1 overall and 6-2 in CCC play, while Newton dropped to 13-3 overall and 7-1 in the CCC.
Arcanum and National Trail also have one loss.
“That’s the CCC for you,” Gibson said with a wry smile. “I know everyone talks about the injuries they have had to pitchers, but that team went to the state semifinals and they have a lot of players with experience in big games.”
And Shaffer had to chuckle about what his team has accomplished.
“Maggie (Manuel) pitched a great game, but she hasn’t pitched since the fifth grade,” he said. “We are winning games we shouldn’t be winning with our fourth pitcher. I told the girls we just have to outscore people.”
The game had started with Newton jumping out to a 2-0 lead.
Baily Chaney walked, before Marissa Deeter hit a two-home run to centerfield.
Which had Gibson hoping for deja vu.
“It was the exact same way we started against Arcanum and we won 18-1,” Gibson said.
It looked like a good omen through four innings.
Norman had only allowed two Bradford baserunners —- a walk and a single, both by Miller.
But, that all changed in the fifth.
Manuel helped herself with a single to start the rally —- with Ramse Smith running for her.
Rylee Canan put down a perfect bunt and beat it out and with one out, Buzz Brewer walked to load the bases.
Smith hustled home on a wild pitch and with two outs, Miller was intentionally walked before the grand slam by Martinez.
“What a big at bat,” Shaffer said. “E (Elisa Martinez) has really come a long way.”
Newton threatened in the sixth.
But, a big double play by third baseman Abby Fike limited the damage.
Ashlyn Deeter had a RBI single in the inning, but Manuel got out of a bases-loaded two-out jam on another ground ball to Fike. She and shortstop Miller turned in numerous web gems.
“We had a lot of big plays out there in this game by the whole team,” Shaffer said. “Those two girls are freshman who have played a ton of softball.”
Marissa Deeter hit her second home run in the seventh to cut the Bradford lead to 6-4, but fittingly the game ended on a hard one-hopper to Miller at shortstop.
“I think Austy Miller made about 50 plays out there tonight,” Gibson said. “And their third baseman (Abby Fike) made some big plays.”
Manuel pitched a four-hitter, with one strikeout, four walks and two hit batters.
Norman and Brooke Deeter combined on an eight-hitter for Newton, striking out one and walking four.
“That is one of the things I told the girls after the game (that they are back in the conference race),” Shaffer said.
With one swing of the bat and a little deja vu.
Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org