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Late surge not enough for Triad

Cardinals fall 4-2 to Covington in regional final

TriadCov

Triad’s Jenna Welty reaches to tag a Covington player at third base during Saturday’s Division IV regional final in Tipp City. (EXAMINER PHOTO | MATT HAMMOND)

TIPP CITY — By the time Triad figured out Covington pitcher Casey Yingst, it was a little too late.

Held hitless by the standout hurler through four innings, the Cardinals fell behind 4-0 in a Division IV regional final softball game here Saturday afternoon.

The Cardinals’ bats came alive in the latter frames. Triad collected six hits off Yingst over the last three innings and gave Covington a late scare, but fell 4-2 to see its season come to an end.

Triad scored twice in the bottom of the sixth inning to climb within two runs. It mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh before a close call on a fielder’s choice play at third base snuffed out Triad’s last hope for a comeback win.

“We booted the ball way too much,” said Triad head coach Shari Dixon after watching her squad commit five errors. “In a game like this, the team that makes the fewest mistakes is going to win. Give credit to Covington. They hit the ball well and made the plays they had to make.”

Despite their miscues early in the game, the Cardinals gave themselves a chance in the end.

They strung together three straight hits to begin the bottom of the sixth, including an RBI double by Dayna Ober that made the score 4-1. Hannah Watkins followed with an RBI groundout for Triad’s second run of the inning.

After a groundout and strikeout to begin the bottom of the seventh, Triad made another threat.

Cierra Puckett, who hit in the ninth spot in the lineup, singled to left field and Maddi Ehrenborg worked a walk to put runners on first and second with two outs.

Jenna Welty followed with a ground ball to short. Covington shortstop Cassidy Cain bobbled the ball initially. After gaining control of it, she hurried a throw to third baseman Heidi Snipes.

Puckett, running from second, and the ball appeared to arrive at third base at the same time, but Puckett was called out.

“I thought she was safe, but it is what it is,” said Dixon.

By holding on for the win, Covington kept its unbeaten record intact and advanced to the state Final Four for the third straight year. The Buccs (30-0) play Strasburg-Franklin on Thursday in Akron.

“We have had our backs against the wall before, so our girls don’t get rattled too much,” said Covington head coach Dean Denlinger.

Both teams finished with six hits. Triad sophomore pitcher Hannah Watkins did an admirable job holding down a Covington offense that had not had fewer than 10 hits in a game all season.

“Hannah pitched a good game,” said Dixon. “We just didn’t do the little things you have to do in a game like this.”

Yingst, who threw a no-hitter in Covington’s regional semifinal win over Franklin-Monroe on Thursday, struck out eight Triad hitters.

Although there were tears on the faces of many Triad players after Saturday’s game, the future looks bright for the Cardinals. They must replace departing seniors Dayna Ober and Macie Jenkins, but return seven starters.

“We are going to miss Dayna and Macie,” said Dixon. “They have both played four years of varsity softball and they had to overcome obstacles. They did a great job taking on a leadership role this year.”

Triad finished with a 13-17 record, but would have been 25-5 had it not been forced to forfeit 12 wins because of the use of an ineligible player.

COVINGTON 4, TRIAD 2

Buccs    010    120    0    —    4    6    1

Cardinals    000    002    0    —    2    6    5

WP—Yingst; LP—Watkins.

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