Blue Devils walk off to title game

Tribune Chronicle / Robert Hayes Sierra Schrader rips a hit to drive in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh Wednesday against East Palestine.

NORTH JACKSON — “I just went up to bat thinking I didn’t want my senior season to be over, because these girls, they deserve it.”

That’s how Sierra Schrader said she felt after ripping a walk-off line drive Wednesday to send McDonald to the Division IV Jackson-Milton District final, with a 3-2 win in an emotional semifinal against the East Palestine Bulldogs.

In many ways, Wednesday’s game was a roller-coaster of emotions, as neither team was able to find it’s offensive rhythm early on.

That changed in the bottom of the sixth inning, when McDonald’s Megan Ward blasted a triple, and scored on a passed ball for a 1-0 lead. The Blue Devils previously had just two hits to that point.

Meanwhile, Bri Callow of McDonald had a no-hitter going into the top of the seventh inning, but the Bulldogs were finally able to strike. Delaney Early reached on an error to lead off the inning and Joclyn Fristik followed that up with the Bulldogs’ first hit of the evening.

East Palestine ended up taking a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh and it seemed like the momentum had swung in favor of the Bulldogs.

The Blue Devils wouldn’t let that change in momentum phase them, as Callow helped her own cause and led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a double. Anjalena Exline came in to pinch run for Callow, and scored on a hit by Sarah Lorello to tie the game at 2-2.

That set up Schrader’s big hit to drive home Lorello and win the ballgame for the Blue Devils (16-4).

Schrader said she knew that her team had the ability to win the game against adversity.

“We knew that we could do this, we’ve always been batting pretty well, we were just hitting them right to them towards the beginning of the game, but we really pulled through that last inning.”

Lorello was excited to score the winning run.

“It’s really good. At first it was great when we got the first run, and then it was like a little sad when they scored two, but we brought it back so everything is fine.”

McDonald coach Michelle Titus said she knows her team can face adversity.

“They do a good job with that kind of stuff, I’m happy with the way they handled themselves when they’re down.”

Titus was also proud of the way Callow retired the first 18 batters in a row, although Titus kept laser focus on winning the game itself.

“I don’t pay attention to that (the no hitter), we’re going one pitch at a time, that’s how we play,” she said. “We play one pitch a time, if we get a strikeout, that’s done with, we have the next pitch to go.”

Callow ended the game with 16 punchouts.

It was a timely win for McDonald, as the game didn’t start until 6:45, and the lack of sunlight was possibly going to become a factor due to the field not having lights.

Earlier in the afternoon at Jackson-Milton, East Canton defeated Lisbon by a score of 7-1 to set up today’s title game between the Hornets and the Blue Devils at 5 p.m.

Schrader is ready for today’s match up against East Canton.

“Oh yeah, I’m excited.”