ALLIANCE - You could almost feel it coming.
Nursing a two-run lead, the Lakeview Bulldogs failed to push across insurance runs with a runner on second and no outs in both the sixth and seventh innings. That's a dangerous walk on the wild side with the hard-hitting Canfield Cardinals in the opposite dugout.
The missed opportunities haunted the Bulldogs in the bottom of the seventh when two hits and a pair of errors led to three runs and a 6-5 Canfield win in a semifinal of the Division II district softball tournament Thursday at Alliance High School.
"I was hoping to get a couple more runs on them," Bulldogs coach Vicki Lawrence said. "It makes it a lot easier than two runs, but we didn't do it. It's not what we wanted, but we had a great season. We're happy with this season, but not how it ended."
The sudden finish ended a solid pitching performance by senior Taylor Waid, who allowed 11 hits, struck out eight and walked three for the Bulldogs (14-4). Waid settled into a groove after giving up one run in the first and two in the second and was on the verge of getting the win entering the bottom of the seventh with a 5-3 lead.
Maura Kennedy led off the seventh with a double for Canfield (21-5). Rachel Tinkey, who doubled, homered and singled in three previous plate appearances, walked.
After Kara Rothbauer flied out, Amelia Manenti grounded to shortstop Laura Innocenzi, whose throw to third got by third baseman Kylee Mann. With the ball stopping in the thick grass along the fence, Mann had to run far to retrieve it, and there was enough time for Kennedy and Tinkey to score and Manenti to advance to second.
Karina Kennedy followed with a single to left. When left fielder Caitlin McDivitt bobbled the ball, courtesy runner Rebecca Armstrong slid into home to score the winning run.
"I'm a very optimistic person," Cardinals coach Ray Melewski said. "It has to be where we're close to dead before I give up on something like that. I said to them before that inning that we have the right people coming up at the right time."
Tinkey showed why she's among the best hitters in the area. The junior shortstop turned on a Waid pitch in the third inning with Ally Sammarco on third after a triple and sent a shot that received some help from the wind over the fence in left-center field that cut Lakeview's lead to 4-3.
"We were hoping that she didn't beat us, but she did," Lawrence said. "We got the ball in, and she hit one out. Then the next time we walked her, and she scored. She's a good ballplayer."
Perhaps Tinkey's best moment came when she hurried from first to home on the throwing error in the seventh. Melewski said that Tinkey isn't known for her speed, but she appeared fast turning third.
"I went on contact and saw the ball go to the fence and it stopped - it died," Tinkey said. "That's when I decided to keep going."
The Bulldogs opened the scoring in the top of the first when Waid singled in Hannah Petrosky, who reached on an error by second baseman Maura Kennedy leading off. The Cardinals evened the score when Tinkey doubled in Maura Kennedy in the bottom of the first.
Mann doubled and scored on a single by Brooke Waid in the top of the second. Petrosky then singled, and McDivitt doubled home Brooke Waid and Petrosky to give Lakeview a 4-1 lead.
After Tinkey's home run, the Bulldogs stretched their lead to two runs in the fifth when Petrosky doubled and scored on a single by Samantha Marino.
Lauren Casassa doubled leading off the sixth but was stranded at third by Cardinals winning pitcher Kayla Troxil. McDivitt walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch leading off the seventh, but Troxil left her stranded at third.
Melewski was impressed with Taylor Waid's performance.
"I thought in the middle of the game she was going to start struggling a little bit, but she came back and got girls to go after pitches they normally don't go after," Melewski said. "She had us off balance a little bit."
Canfield plays Poland today for the district crown. Poland advanced with a 6-4 win over West Branch.