Blue Devils in seventh heaven
LISBON — Lisbon and Columbiana, the two softball powers in the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference, treated fans to a classic on the Blue Devils’ home field Monday.
Trailing 6-3 entering its last at-bat, Lisbon had a flair for the dramatic, exploding for four runs in the bottom of the seventh to clip the Clippers 7-6 and send the home crowd into a frenzy.
“Holy cow, it was a huge gut check,” said a thrilled Lisbon coach Dave Crismon. “We were up against a little adversity. One of our better kids is out (injured) and we said, OK, we’re going to go compete and play, and I couldn’t be prouder of them because they stepped up against a quality Columbiana team and got a huge win.”
Providing the fireworks for the celebration were Lisbon juniors Justyce Vrable and Mya Emmerling.
After Anna Marshalek singled and Kyrstan Reckner reached base on a throwing error to open the bottom of the seventh, Vrable stepped to the plate and connected on a towering three-run home run over the left field fence that tied the game at 6-6.
“Justyce has that kind of power,” Crismon said. “It was a matter of her being patient at the plate and getting the pitch she can take and drive and that’s what she did. She stepped up huge for us.”
“It’s awesome, it’s a feeling like never before,” said Vrable of her clutch home run, her fourth of the season. “Especially when it really matters and you put it to a team, it’s really awesome. It’s one of them (the biggest hit of her career), I can tell you that.”
Then, after Blue Devil Kaity Clark doubled to left field, Emmerling ripped a game-winning RBI double to right field, scoring Clark with the winning run.
“It was really exciting,” Emmerling said. “It was a nice hit, I felt it when I hit it. This feels awesome, it’s my favorite win of the season.”
Emmerling was also the winning pitcher, going all seven innings while striking out five and walking one.
The win improved the Blue Devils’ record to 9-3 overall and they remain perfect atop the EOAC standings at 7-0. Columbiana is now 10-2 overall and 6-1 in the league.
“The girls did a heck of a job,” said Columbiana coach Madison Kurtz of her team’s tough setback. “I give it to Lisbon, they came out in the last inning and they didn’t give up whatsoever.”
The two teams will turn around and play again at 5 p.m. today at Columbiana’s Firestone Park.
Lisbon ended up with eight hits, including five which went for extra bases, including four doubles and a home run. Leading the winners was Vrable with a three-run homer and a single, Clark with a double and a single, Reckner with an RBI double and McKenna Dailey and Mallory Gallo with doubles.
Columbiana had 11 hits, including four doubles and a triple. The loss spoiled an outstanding performance by center fielder Julia Rapp, who led the Clippers with a triple and two doubles. Adding a single and a double each were Tori Long and Mackenzi Gamble.
“We had a couple girls on the team that had some really good hits,” Kurtz said. “Julia (Rapp) came out swinging and Alaina Johnston came out and did what she had to do and (starter) Tori Long threw a heck of a game.”
Columbiana took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Rapp doubled and scored on a single to center by Gamble.
Lisbon tied things at 1-1 in the bottom of the first when Vrable singled to right and scored on a double to deep left by McKenna Dailey.
The Clippers went up 3-1 in the third. Rapp doubled and scored on an RBI double by Tori Long. Alaina Johnston followed with an RBI single, making it 3-1.
Lisbon tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the third after Clark singled, Emmerling and Dailey walked and Gallo connected on a double to left, scoring two runners to even things up.
Columbiana answered in the top of the fourth when Rapp tripled and scored on a throwing error, making it 4-3.
The Clippers added to their advantage with solo runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Gamble doubled to right and came around to score on a RBI groundout by Ava Davanzo, making it 5-3 in the fifth. Then in the sixth, Rapp hit a high fly to deep left field that was dropped for an error, scoring another run for the visitors which made it 6-3.
But the Clippers were set down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh, setting the stage for the Blue Devils’ four-run come-from-behind win in the bottom half of the frame.
“I’m so very proud of all of them. It was a never-say-die attitude,” Crismon said.
L: 1-0-2-0-0-0-4 –7- 8-2
L–Mya Emmerling, wp (7IP, 5K, 1BB) and Kaity Clark.
C–Tori Long (6IP), Mackenzi Gamble, lp (0IP) and Audrey Smith.
HR — Justice Vrable (L). 3B — Julia Rapp (C). 2B — Julia Rapp (C) (2). Tori Long (C), Mackenzie Gamble (C), Kaity Clark (L), Mya Emmerling (L), McKenna Dailey (L), Mallory Gallo (L).