LISBON - All season long, Khylea Fullum anchored the Columbiana offense, providing power and speed from the cleanup spot in the order.
However, in the biggest game of the season, the Clippers were forced to go without their senior third baseman who sprained her ankle last Thursday against Western Reserve.
With a hole in their lineup, the Clippers were not able to keep pace with the offense of Mineral Ridge, falling 8-3 to the Rams in Monday's Division IV district semifinal at Lisbon's Dickey Field.
"We knew it was going to be tough to push runs across without Khylea," Columbiana coach Jerry Beltempo said. "She is our leader in pretty much every offensive category. Our lineup was definitely stretched a little thin."
That lineup was put to the test after the Rams scored three in the fourth to take a 4-0 lead.
With one out, leadoff hitter McKenzie Garland reached on a triple and scored on an RBI single by Peyton Allen. The next batter, Darby Kolesar, reached on a throwing error, with Allen scoring all the way from first on the play. Kolesar reached third on another throwing error and scored on a fielders choice.
"We could have done a better job in the field," Beltempo said, "We couldn't afford to have them score a bunch of runs and we gave them a couple that inning. Give Mineral Ridge credit though, they hit the ball hard."
The Rams added a run in the fourth when Emily Reese tripled to left and came home when the Clippers misplayed the cutoff throw. The lead swelled to seven in the fifth on a two-run single by Allissa Sparks. Five of the Rams eight hits went for extra bases.
"Coming into the game, we were confident we could hit their pitcher (Dakota DeAmicis)," Mineral Ridge coach Bill Croft said. "We focused on moving up in the box and driving the ball. That was one of our better hitting efforts of the year."
Armed with an early lead, Mineral Ridge's Kolesar proved to be very tough on the Clippers. Columbiana did not mount a serious threat until the fifth when the Clippers scored three to cut into the lead.
Haley Tohm had an RBI single and Navi Kaur had a two-run triple. With one out, Kaur at third, and the middle of the order due up, the Clippers had the makings of a big inning. However, the rally ended abruptly when Madison Roessler grounded back to the mound and Kaur was thrown out at home trying to score on the play. The Clippers would not threaten the rest of the way.
"Coming into the game, I knew that they (Columbiana) had scored 12 against Western Reserve so I'm very happy we were able to hold them down like we did," Kolesar said.
"Darby (Kolesar) has really improved as the year has gone on," Croft said. "She is the type of player who is always looking for ways to improve. She is always doing extra work by herself when we aren't playing."
Mineral Ridge improves to 12-9 on the season and will take on Jackson-Milton for the district championship at 5 p.m. today at Dickey Field.