Blue Eagles Clip Cadets
The Blue Eagles’ Ashlyn Piekarski’s one-out, two-run single in the top of the seventh proved to be the game-winner as the No. 4-seed Magnolia squad rallied for a thrilling 5-4 victory over the top-seed Linsly Cadets in a Class AAA semifinal on Ben’s Field at the J.B. Chamber’s I-470 Sports Complex Tuesday, April 23.
With one out in the top pf the first, the Eagles Kayna Anderson would beat out a bunt and steal second, but two-straight ground-outs halted Magnolia’s chance to score first.
With the Blue Eagles’ Ashley Tharp throwing B-B’s, and striking out two straight Cadets batters, Cadets Sophia Recrosi beat out an infield hit.. She then stole second and scored on a Sarah Heller RBI double into the right-center field gap for a 1-0 advantage.
The Big Blue went down in order in the top of the second, as well as Linsly, with both pitchers striking out two of the three batters they faced.
Magnolia thought they had something brewing in the third as Sydney Scott opened with a walk, but quickly fell apart as a fielder’s choice and a pair of long fly-outs ended any chance of scoring a run in the third.
Linsly (14-6) had a shot to blow the game wide open in the third with Maddy Menendez reaching on a one-out single. She then stole second and third before scoring on Karena Recrosio base-hit to make it 2-0. Recrosio’s sister Sophia then reached on a bunt single with both moving up a base with the meat of the Cadets order due up.
However, Tharp would strike out the next two batters, including the last one looking, to get out of the third without any more damage.
Tharp and Ashley Kelly each singled to open the fourth, but would hit into a double-play and a pop-out ended a nice opportunity to make some noise.
The Magnolia (15-4) defense got the first pair of Cadet batters out in the fourth, before Tharp hit a batter. However, she would strike-out the final batter.
With the momentum starting to pull in favor of Magnolia, the Eagles would get something going in the fifth, cutting the deficit in half when Sydney Scott reached on a one-out fielder’s choice. Natalie Fletcher would then smack a liner to right centerfield for a double, and Paige Brill then drill a run-scoring single up the middle to make it a 2-1 game.
Tharp would set the Cadets down in order in the bottom half of the fifth, while Ashley Kelly opened the sixth with a single, and Pikarski was hit by a pitch. Lindsay Whiteman moved both runner up a notch with a pin-point sacrifice bunt which put runners on second and third with one away.
Shayna White then reached on an error allowing two Eagles to score and take a 3-2 lead.
Head coach Angela Johnson’s squad scored a pair of much-needed insurance runs in the seventh with two one-out singles by Anderson and Tharp, a fielder’s choice and Piekarski’s two-run single to left that put Magnolia up by a 5-2 margin heading into the bottom of the seventh.
The Magnolia defense got the first two Cadet batters out and the Eagles only needed one out for the win. Tharp had two strikes and no balls on Menendez. However, its never over till its over, and Linsly would catch on fire, with three straight base hits, including a RBI double, and a RBI single to pull to within a run of knotting the game up. Anderson caught a high pop-fly at second base to end the game and send them into the OVAC Class 3A championship for the first time since 2012.
“I’m just so happy we got the win” said Tharp. “Its my senior year and getting into the OVAC championship, and go to state are two of my goals this year. I can now scratch one off and will start working on the other next week.”
“My teammates picked me up, and I didn’t want to let them down,” added Tharp. “My teammates and I have been working hard on our game, and we didn’t panic when we were down, and that is a testament to our coaches.”
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get much going early on, but we did a good job adjusting to things and we had some girls make some big plays in the field as well,” Johnson said. “And no question, we got some timely, big hits.
“Defensively their third baseman (Karena Recrosio) and centerfielder (Sophia Recrosio) hurt us both offensively and defensively. They are really great players.
“Ashley (Tharp) also did an outstanding job in the circle, but she is always strong and I have so much confidence in her.”
Anderson, Tharp, Kelly and White each had multiple hits, with Anderson adding two steals, and White bringing home two runs. Fletcher smacked a double, while Piekarski tacked on a 2-RBI single, including the game-winner. Brill drilled a RBI single, while Scott walked and scored, and Lindsay Whiteman had a sacrifice bunt.
The Recrosio sisters combined for six hits and three RBI to pace the Linsly team.