By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
PIQUA —- Piqua softball coach Greg Campbell knew what his team was in for Wednesday against Middletown junior ace Carly Metcalf in a Division I sectional semifinal.
Unfortunately for Campbell, he proved to be correct.
She recorded 17 strikeouts and Piqua only hit three balls in fair territory as Arianna Layne’s third-inning home run was the difference as the Middies won 1-0, ending Piqua’s season at 17-9.
Middletown improved to 12-12.
“Eric (assistant coach Eric Blankenship) and I did a little research on her,” Campbell said. “We watched some videos of her. We knew she was a stud.”
Despite the fact Metcalf through a no-hitter, Piqua had a number of chances to score.
She walked the leadoff batter in four different innings and walked seven batters in the game. Piqua had runners on third with less than two outs in three different innings.
“It is about doing the little things and executing when you need to and we didn’t do that tonight,” Campbell said.
In the second, Kenzi Anderson walked and moved to third with one out on two wild pitches, but Metcalf struck out the side.
In the fifth, Kathy Young and Kylie Trissell walked and a wild pitch put runners on second and third with no outs.
Metcalf answered with three straight strikeouts.
And the final opportunity came in the seventh when Reagan Toopes walked and Young sacrificed her to second. She moved to third on a wild pitch, before Metcalf ended the game with two more strikeouts.
“I was hoping we would catch up to her (speed) the second time around,” Campbell said. “But, we never did.”
At the same time, Mariah Blankenship was throwing a gem for Piqua.
She pitched a five-hitter, striking out eight and walking one.
“Mariah (Blankenship) has pitched well for us all season,” Campbell said. “Tonight, was undoubtedly her best game of the season. It was an emotional day for her —- signing with Edison State today and pitching in a tournament game tonight. I am so happy for her —- even though it is sad having the season come to an end.”
Katie Pearson and Metcalf had singled in the first, before Blankenship got a pop-up and strikeout to end the inning.
Then, Layne hit the game-winner in the third over the left-field fence.
“I believe the girl who hit the homer is going to Akron,” Campbell said. “And the pitcher is going to end up somewhere pretty good as well. So, we got beat by two pretty good players.”
Piqua turned in a defensive gem in the sixth to keep the game 1-0.
Metcalf had a leadoff double and Ellie Kidd ran for her.
Third baseman Paige Hinkle fielded a bunt and threw to second baseman Kathy Young at first for the out. Kidd went to far around third and Young threw a strike to shortstop Reagan Toopes covering third to get the out and complete the double play.
“We did exactly what we were supposed to do and got the out at first base,” Campbell said. “Kathy (Young) did what we are always telling them, find a way to get the next out. She fired that ball over there and got the girl out.”
While the loss was disappointing, the season was not.
“Our goal was 15 wins, so we exceeded that by two,” Campbell said. “We were right in line with all our season goals. So, I am happy with the season.”
Unfortunately, Metcalf turned out to be everything he thought she would be and that was enough to end Piqua’s season.
Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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