BY YANEEK SMITH
AKRON — Oak Harbor had some uncharacteristic miscues in its Division II state semifinal matchup with Jonathan Alder, causing the Rockets to fall behind early, digging themselves into a deep hole in their 5-0 loss to the Pioneers at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
Alder, of Plain City, Ohio northwest of Columbus, got a great pitching performance from Marlee Jacobs, who allowed no runs on four hits while striking out seven.
“We ran into a good pitcher, and we just couldn’t time her up and get ahold of her curveball,” said Oak Harbor coach Chris Rawski.
In the top of the first inning, Danielle Robbins led off for Alder, reached on an error, stole second, advanced to third on a bunt by Jacobs and scored on a wild pitch to give the Pioneers the lead for good at 1-0.
Alder would add two more runs in the third, the first coming on a hit that included two errors. Robbins lined a pitch to left field that was misplayed and rolled to the wall, allowing her to score.
The next batter, Evan Platfoot, reached on an error, advanced to second on a bunt by Kylier King and scored on a base hit to left by Jaden Phelps to make it 3-0. The Pioneers would add insurances runs in the fifth and seventh to push the lead to five runs.
Oak Harbor came closest to scoring in the fourth when Remi Gregory reached on a single and advanced to third on a base hit by Hannah Schimmoeller with one out, but Jacobs struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
The first three runs allowed by Oak Harbor pitcher Reagan Schultz were unearned.
“She did a great job,” said Rawski. “She kept them off balance, and they hit maybe two or three balls hard all day.”
It was the final game for three Rockets — Schultz, Gregory and Sydney Overmyer. Schultz will play softball at Kent State University next year, Overmyer will swim at Wilmington College and Gregory will attend the University of Toledo.
“They developed into outstanding leaders that all players looked up to and relied upon as the season went along,” said Rawski. “They have made the Rocket Softball Program better in every way! Their leadership is now forever engrained into the fabric of the program, and is cemented with banners that will proudly hang!”
Schultz was named the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division’s Most Outstanding Player and Gregory, a third baseman, and Overmyer, a right fielder, were named to the second team.
“In my mind, I try to stay positive as much as I can because the underclassmen look up to me,” said Schultz. “If the pitcher isn’t confident, it will show.
“Our team has such a strong bond, and we were playing to have fun and win titles in the process.”
The team was given quite a send-off as fans lined the streets and a fire truck escorted the bus down Water Street on Wednesday when it left for Akron.
“I mean, for the mountains that were moved to the send-offs, it was pretty incredible,” said Rawski. “It’s not anything I’ve ever witnessed on this level. It was awesome. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing for these kids. It was very rewarding.
“I would like to thank the Oak Harbor community for the tremendous support and enthusiasm at each step of the way! Thanks to the die-hard fans who never missed a game in the freezing cold and to those that fell in love with watching this group play late in the season! The send-offs with the streets lined with support meant so much to these players and their families. Thanks for the charter bus, the team meals, and the messages of support.”
Rawski had high praise for his players.
“This is easily the most selfless team that has ever stepped on the Rocket Softball Field in 11 years,” he said. “They put aside personal needs for the betterment of the team! They started the year as teammates and friends, but finished the year as a family.
“They practiced and played at a high level all year, all 15 of them, and they all should be so proud of where they ended up. They left a lasting legacy.”
Schultz is also hopeful that the Rockets winning a regional championship can help the program continue to flourish.
“I hope it brings more people out. We had a lot of seniors quit this year, there were supposed to be eight of us,” she said. “I hope it puts us out there and put us on the map because we aren’t as well known.”