By SCOTT COTTOS
FOSTORIA — Arlington made mistakes. Columbus Grove made the Red Devils pay.
Two Arlington errors and four hits by the Bulldogs resulted in three runs in the top of the seventh inning and Columbus Grove pocketed a 5-2 victory in a Division IV district softball semifinal on Tuesday at Fostoria High School.
The Bulldogs raised their record to 17-4 and advanced to the district title game against the winner of today’s 5 p.m. semifinal between Carey (16-9) and Leipsic (11-11). Friday’s championship game is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Fostoria, with the winner advancing to the Findlay Regional.
Two of the Red Devils’ four errors in the game resulted in runners taking extra bases in the seventh inning. Such baserunning has been a Grove hallmark all season, according to coach Travis Gallmeier.
“That’s been our go-to all year,” Gallmeier said. “We’ve been extremely aggressive on the basepaths. I told the girls the other day, ‘We’ve got to make sure we’re smart because of the lot of stuff we were able to do in the regular season may not work because we’re getting farther and farther into the tournament. I can only think of one time where I thought, ‘Man, we could have held it.’ That’s when they got one of our girls out at third base. But overall I was happy with the way we ran.”
Committing four errors was not very Arlington-like, and they came on a day when the Bulldogs made no errors.
“Just a basic lack of fundamentals fielding the ball,” said Red Devils coach Gregg Feller, whose club dropped out of tournament play at 17-2. “… (The Bulldogs) played really sound defense and we didn’t. That was the difference in the game.”
Grove’s Brooke Hoffman ended up on second base when she reached on an infield hit and Moriah Helms couldn’t handle shortstop Megan Johnson’s throw to first.
Hoffman scored on winning pitcher Grace Schroeder’s single to right field. Schroeder went to second on McKenzie Bame’s infield hit and Danielle Bame, courtesy running for Schroeder, then scored when second baseman Emily Berry bobbled Tori Warnecke’s bouncer.
McKenzie Bame raced home from second with the Bulldogs’ final run on Lauren Birkemeier’s infield hit.
Helms led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and a stolen base. She got to third on Ryanne Miller’s groundout, but Schroeder got Johnson on a pop-up to second and Aaliyah Comstock on fly ball to center to end the game.
Grove scored the game’s first run in the first inning when leadoff hitter Hoffman walked and later scored on a wild pitch by Addy Lafferty. Arlington went ahead in the bottom in the inning on cleanup batter Laura Myers’ two-run single to left field.
The Bulldogs tied the game in the fifth when Marybeth Nemire reached on third baseman Myers’ error and later crossed the plate on Schroeder’s two-out single.
Columbus Grove left the bases loaded in the sixth — just as the Red Devils had done in the second — but cashed in for the victory in the final inning.
“I’m really excited for the girls,” Gallmeier said. “We’ve really worked hard this year. They came here and beat a really good Arlington team.”
Schroeder did not strike out a batter and walked two in gaining the pitching win. Losing pitcher Lafferty struck out four and walked three.
The Red Devils, though, still have a big game left on the schedule. They travel to Hopewell-Loudon Thursday for their final regular-season game. A win would give Arlington a share of the Blanchard Valley Conference championship with North Baltimore.
Columbus Grove 100 010 3 — 5 6 0
Arlington 200 000 0 — 2 7 4
WP — Schroeder. LP — Lafferty. TOP HITTERS: (CG) Hoffman 2-1B; Schroeder 2-1B, 2 RBI; Birkemeier 1B, RBI. (Arl) Johnson 2-1B; Comstock 2-1B; Myers 1B, 2 RBI.
RECORDS: Columbus Grove 17-4, Arlington 17-2.