PICKERINGTON — The Danville Blue Devils climbed a big mountain on Saturday.
The softball team played a virtually flawless game to win its sixth Division IV Central District title in seven years, ousting Newark Catholic by the score of 6-0.
The game, played at Pickerington Central’s famous softball complex, featured the top two seeds in the Central District, with each sending their top pitchers to lead the charge. Kat Mickley, the Danville ace who had allowed just two earned runs in three postseason games, faced Maggie Yocum, the junior who had led the Green Wave all season. The matchup went as expected.
At least, for the first four innings.
Danville broke the scoreless tie in the fifth when Emily Pew scored on a Darci Lauderbaugh double down the left field line. Lauderbaugh herself later scored on a Jessica Francis fielder’s choice.
“You kind of saw (Newark Catholic) put their heads down,” said Danville head coach Mike Beheler, “as soon as the first person scored. I think we would have done the same thing. But, as soon as we scored, they lost their posture. ... They stopped talking in the dugout, and we just got louder and louder.”
How did Lauderbaugh feel after knocking in the first run of the game?
“Fricking great,” Lauderbaugh said. “I knew it was going to set the mood for everything, and everyone was going to keep hitting.”
Defensively, the Blue Devils bent, but never broke. They allowed a base runner in scoring position in six out of seven innings. But no one wearing green and white made it around to home plate.
In the first, Newark Catholic’s Mackenzie Clark was caught stealing third. In the second, Kaycie Brown was left at second. In the third, the bases were loaded with one out when Mickley struck out Jayla Graves, then forced Caroline Wollenburg into a groundout to second baseman Bri Staats. In the fourth, Kim White and Hallie Parker were stranded at second and third, respectively.