Rams edge Big Blue in softball rivalry matchup

Frustration was the universal mood on Senior Day at Carl Schatt Field at Mueller Stadium.

For Hamilton High School softball coach Steve Heckman, there was annoyance in allowing two unearned runs. For Badin coach Greg Stitzel, those runs weren’t good enough.

Yet as the Rams’ 2-1 win over the Big Blue ended Monday, the focus shifted toward the future — the postseason begins for both teams Wednesday.

“Very frustrating,” Stitzel said. “Very frustrating about the hitting right now. We score a lot more runs than that, we hit the ball a lot better than that. You kind of want to think they’re trying to press, but it just doesn’t look like it. The hitting’s not there right now.”

Entering the game, Badin (23-2) was averaging more than nine runs per game. On Monday, the two runs came in the second inning when Samantha Sander’s double scored Josie Link from first and in the fifth inning when a dropped pop-up with two outs scored Gracie McHugh.

“You say the woulda, coulda, shouldas, but we battled with them,” Heckman said. “It came down to a couple mistakes. We made them and they didn’t.”

Hamilton (13-13) scored three batters in when pitcher Autumn Griffie singled to center to plate Destiny Anderson. With two hits in the first three batters, Big Blue instantly forced pressure on Nicole Rawlings, Badin’s left-handed pitcher who improved to 21-2.

But Rawlings kept her composure, racking up 11 strikeouts in a four-hitter.

“Nicole pitched a heck of a game,” Stitzel said. “She’s been struggling a little bit with her elbow, it’s been bothering her. Basically she took over tonight and won the game for us.”

Rawlings’ 21 wins more than doubled the next pitcher in the Greater Catholic League Coed Division. She’s also the league leader in earned run average (among starters) and strikeouts.

That said, Rawlings wasn’t the only successful pitcher in Monday’s rivalry game. Griffie allowed no earned runs over six innings and struck out three. Offensively, she went 3-for-3 with three singles.

“I thought Autumn Griffie pitched a great game, as did their pitcher,” Heckman said. “She’s really been working hard on pitching. I know that sounds like, ‘Well, duh, she’s pitching.’ But instead of throwing, she’s pitching. She’s got the mental part of it down.”

Heckman also praised her ability to adjust with every batter, whether it’s part of a pregame plan or being adaptable. Sander’s double was the only extra-base hit against Griffie (11-11).

HHS, seeded 10th, will travel to No. 5 Edgewood for a Division I sectional semifinal Wednesday at 5 p.m. The Cougars edged Big Blue 5-4 last month.

“This is a confidence booster, I think,” Heckman said about the close game with Badin. “We play a game like this against a great team. Again, it was two unearned runs. We clean some stuff up a little bit and play with the same intensity, there’s no reason we can’t win.”

Badin, a Division III regional semifinalist the last two years, is the No. 1 seed in Dayton and ranked seventh in the state. The Rams will host fifth-seeded East Clinton, a 5-1 first-round winner over Fenwick, on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

“Everybody’s 0-0 going in,” Stitzel said. “Everybody.”

Hamilton 100-000-0—1-4-3

Badin 010-010-x—2-5-1

WP — Nicole Rawlings (21-2); LP — Autumn Griffie (11-11). Records: H 13-13, B 23-2

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