By MICHAEL BURWELL
KENTON — Carey pitcher Ali Rymer was in a zone Wednesday in the Blue Devils’ Division IV district semifinal game against Riverdale.
Her defense backed her up as well, and with some timely hits in the fifth and seventh innings, the Blue Devils made school history after blanking the Falcons 5-0 at Kenton High School.
Carey (16-6) advanced to the district finals for the first time. The Blue Devils will face Midland Athletic League-rival New Riegel (22-4), the No. 1 seed in the Kenton district and No. 3 team in the Division IV coaches poll, at 5 p.m. Friday at Kenton High School.
Rymer allowed just four hits in seven innings pitched, struck out four batters and walked three. She threw 108 pitches, including just nine in the seventh inning as she forced a groundout, struck out the next batter and caught a popup to end the game.
The Blue Devils also did not have any errors.
“We came in to tonight ready to play,” Carey coach Teresa Jacoby said. “It’s our first time ever making it to a district final game at Carey, so we’re excited about that.
“Ali had another great game of pitching … awesome defense tonight by the infield and outfield. We made a lot of great plays.”
Both teams had just one hit through the first four innings, but Carey broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the top of the fifth inning. Chelsea Schlack drew a lead-off walk, Jordan Strahm got her to second on a sacrifice bunt, and Makenzie Wentling’s ground ball to third brought Schlack home after Riverdale third baseman Janessa Taylor bobbled the ball, which was the only error for the Falcons.
Abby Hall struck out in the next at-bat, but Taylor Fletcher’s two-out RBI single to center field gave Carey a 2-0 lead. Three straight walks brought home Fletcher for the third run as Carey took control.
“We’ve been working on being selective at the plate,” Jacoby said. “That’s really helped get runners on with walks and get them over in scoring position, so the hits we did have tonight came up huge.”
In the seventh inning, Rymer drew a two-out walk, Presley Elchert came off the bench and hit a single up the middle and Schlack ripped a two-run double to left field to give Carey a 5-0 lead.
“I was just paying careful attention to all the pitches and seeing where they were going and waiting for the right pitch to get the timing right,” Schlack said.
Riverdale (18-10) did not get a hit until Julia Naus’ double to center field with two outs in the bottom of the third inning. After Aricka Hill drew a walk, Rymer got out of the inning by striking out Riverdale pitcher Taylor Farmer.
Riverdale threatened to score in the fifth as well, after back-to-back two-out singles up the middle from Victoria Penwell and Naus, but another strikeout ended the inning. The Falcons also had runners on first and second in the sixth inning, but left them stranded.
“The difference in the game was they got the two-out hits,” Riverdale coach Luke Swavel said. “We’ve been getting the two-out hits all year, and didn’t get them tonight.
“I think we had three situations with runners in scoring position and didn’t get the big hit like we’ve been getting all year.”
Farmer, a sophomore, picked up the loss, pitching all seven innings and allowing five runs (two earned) on four hits. She struck out two batters, but had 10 walks.
Carey, which lost 14-4 to New Riegel in five innings on April 16, will treat the rematch as “just another game,” according to Jacoby.
“We need to play our game like tonight,” Jacoby said. “Good solid defense, great pitching, and we’ll go out there and give it our best.”
CAREY 000 030 2 — 5 4 0
RIVERDALE 000 000 0 — 0 4 1
WP — Rymer (14-4). LP — Farmer (17-9). TOP HITTERS: (Car) Schlack 2B, 2 RBI; Fletcher 1B, RBI. (Riv) Naus 2B, 1B.
RECORDS: Carey 18-6, Riverdale 18-10.
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