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Irish softball heads back to final

Tally 3 doubles and 2 HRs to sink Northwestern, 6-2

Staff photo/Neel Madhavan. Ursuline's Ayva Fedor puts the ball in play Wednesday against Northwestern. Fedor hit a two-run homer against the Huskies.

RAVENNA — When Ursuline needed them most, the bats came alive for the Fighting Irish in Wednesday’s Division III Ravenna district semifinal.

The Irish racked up 10 hits, including three doubles and two home runs, to help spur a 6-2 win over West Salem Northwestern Wednesday in the Division III Ravenna regional semifinal.

“I think they stayed patient and they hit their pitch and that’s how they put it together,” said head coach Kristina Dugan. “I was proud of how they put it together.”

Perhaps most pivotal for Ursuline was the performance from the bottom half of the lineup. The bottom four batters strung together half the team’s hits and four of the Irish’s six runs.

That group was responsible for all of the runs scored in the three-run second inning and the run in the fourth inning.

“What’s great about our team is that we pick each other up and anyone (can make a play) at any given moment,” Dugan said.

Ursuline fell behind early in the first inning when Tuslaw scored via an RBI by Olivia Amstutz. But then responded in the second inning with its three-run frame thanks primarily to a two-run bomb by Ayva Fedor.

“I really started off slow, fouling off those bumps and I really needed to redeem myself,” Fedor said. “I just focused in on who I knew I was as a batter.”

Fedor’s heroics weren’t limited to offense.

Northwestern took advantage of a miscommunication at the plate in the third inning, advancing to second on a dropped ball and then scoring a run on a throwing error. The run cut Ursuline’s lead to one and left the Huskies with runners in scoring positions on second and third base with two outs.

Needing to get out of the inning to quell the Huskies’ momentum, Fedor made a spectacular sideways diving catch in right field off a line drive by Northwestern’s Audrey Franks.

“It was huge for us because we really needed the momentum and we got it,” Fedor said.

Ursuline had a two-run lead going into the seventh and final inning, but added two insurance runs off a two-run bomb by Mia Opalick to all but put the game out of reach for the Huskies.

After the third inning, pitcher Paige Ogden and the Irish defense put the clamps on the Huskies, giving up just two more hits and allowing just two runners to get on base the rest of the game.

Ogden finished with nine strikeouts and one walk in a complete game performance.

“If I call a pitch, she might call me off, but she trusts it and it tends to work,” Dugan said. “I know what pitch she’s going to throw because she and I are kind of in sync and I think with her and (catcher) Maddie (Miklandric) behind the plate, it just works.”

With the win, the Irish will now face Massillon Tuslaw Friday at 4 p.m. in the regional final. Tuslaw defeated South Range 6-1 in the first game of Wednesday’s semifinal doubleheader.

nmadhavan@tribtoday.com

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