Jackson-Milton outslugs Rams in D-IV district final

LISBON – Normally if a softball team puts up 14 runs and 17 hits, it is going to be plenty of offense to guarantee a victory – probably even a shortened run-rule game.

However, for Mineral Ridge on Tuesday in a Division IV district final against Jackson-Milton, the 14 runs weren’t enough.

The Blue Jays countered with 15 hits and took advantage of nine Mineral Ridge errors to get a 17-14 victory and clinch their second straight district title.

“The bats came through today,” Jackson-Milton coach Kelly Snowden said. “Yesterday we scored six runs out of our eight on two outs, so we’re a two-out hitting team.”

It didn’t matter how many outs were on the board for either squad as both offensive efforts were impressive to say the least. Five Jackson-Milton players had multiple hits and five Rams’ players also put up at least two hits in the game.

Leading Jackson-Milton was Maddie Tomaino who had three hits, including a double and a triple. Caitlyn Carney added two hits, including a hard-hit solo home run in the third inning. The home run was Carney’s 10th of the season.

Mineral Ridge’s offensive outburst was paced by sophomore Peyton Allen. The center fielder hit for the cycle, with an inside the park home run to begin her day. McKenzie Garland had three hits as did Allie Watkins. Adrianna Reese chipped in two triples.

“Both teams hit well, but especially that last inning, we made six errors and that really killed us.” Mineral Ridge coach Bill Croft said. “It was a good game. We knew if we could cut down on our mistakes we would be in it, but it hurt us in the end.”

Mineral Ridge led, 3-2, heading into the third inning. However, the Rams found themselves quickly down 6-3 after Carney’s home run and three more Jackson-Milton runs. Though Mineral Ridge scored in every inning, it could never catch up to the Blue Jays, who also recorded a run in each frame.

It looked as if Jackson-Milton put the game away in a seven-run seventh inning, which was a mixture of Blue Jays’ hits and Mineral Ridge errors. However, like they did all game, the Rams battled back and were able to score five in the bottom of the seventh. The effort wasn’t enough and the Rams ended their season with a 12-10 mark.

“I just wanted to make sure we stayed ahead the whole time, because I knew once we got down, we probably wouldn’t be able to get back up from it,” Jackson-Milton pitcher Paije Kiraly said. “The last inning was torture for me. The last three outs are the worst because you just want it to end because you’re winning. It’s hard but we did it.”

The win improved Jackson-Milton to 21-8 and gives the Blue Jays their second straight trip to Kent State University for a Division IV regional semifinal. The Blue Jays are waiting for their opponent, as the last semifinal of that district is set to play today.

Last year, Jackson-Milton made an exit in the regional tournament after the semifinal, losing to Mathews, 5-3. This year, the Blue Jays are determined to make it farther and make a run at a state title.

“I’m extremely excited (to be going back to regionals),” Kiraly said. “I want to make it farther than we did last year.”