Mathews returns to title game
BAZETTA — The Mathews Mustangs softball program is familiar with deep playoff runs.
“We’ve been in the district final six out of the last nine years, and we’ve gone to regionals six out of the last nine,” Mathews coach Jim Nicula said.
But to get back to that familiar place, the Mustangs had to overcome a determined Brookfield team, beating the Warriors 3-2 on Wednesday at Candlelight Knolls in a Division IV Warren District semifinal.
Mathews will take on its Northeastern Athletic Conference foe Bristol, the top seed in the district and defending champion. The Mustangs and Panthers will battle for the district title today at 5 p.m. at Candlelight Knolls.
“Your going to have that in districts, it’s almost like playing one of your friends,” Nicula said about playing Bristol. “They’re a big rival, we know them well, they know us well.
“Somebody that’s very good is going to represent Trumbull County at regional next week.”
On Wednesday, the Warriors struck first in the top of third when Morgan McNamara drove in Cara Nehlen who had moved into scoring position with a stolen base.
Mathews’ offense needed a boost going into the bottom of third as the Mustangs had yet to have a runner on base due to the strong pitching of Brokfield’s Gabby Schiska.
Kylie Nicholson finally reached base for Mathews, then a two-out double by Ashley Deans brought in Grace Simon to tie the game at 1-1.
“From the third inning on it was on, because even the balls we hit that were out were line drives,” Nicula said.
Mathews took the lead in the bottom of the fourth as pitcher Becca Landis helped her own cause scoring a run on an RBI double by Hannah Mangus. Brookfield answered right back in the top of the fifth as McNamara collected her second RBI of the day, bringing in Bailey Drapola to tie the game at 2-2.
Landis continued to contribute to her cause at the plate as she had an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth to put the Mustangs up 3-2.
In the top of the seventh, with two outs, McNamara hit a ball down the left field line. The ball was ruled foul, but not immediately as Drapola seemingly scored from first to tie the game.
Landis then retired the final Brookfield batter in a complete game effort.