Leopards Overcome Rough Start to Win Sectional Against Jackson 4-3 – Softball
#1 Louisville 4, #9 Jackson 3
The top seeded Louisville Leopards Softball Team rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the visiting #9 Seed Jackson Polar Bears 4-3 in the DI Massillon Sectional Finals Thursday Evening at the Diamond of Dreams. With the victory, Louisville improves to 21-1 on the season and advances to play the #4 Seed Lake Blue Streaks in the District Semifinals on Wednesday, May 16 at 2:30 PM at the Eagles #190 Sports Complex in Massillon.
Sarah Cantley hit a go-ahead 2-run homer just inside the left fair pole to give the Lady Leopards a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth. Cantley did the rest with her arm in pitching a complete game, giving up 2 earned runs on 4 hits, and striking out 8 to lead Louisville.
It wasn’t a pretty start for the top seeded Leopards in the opening frame. The first three Polar Bears reached base as they produced the first run of the game. Sophia Bernard single home Lexi Eckman for the initial score. After two quick outs, Elizabeth Bara singled to center scoring Ellie Chevalier to make it 2-0 Jackson midway through the first.
The Polar Bears added to their total in the third. Megan Dechellis reached base after being called safe on a bang-bang play at first and then advanced to second on a 6-3 groundout. After the second out was recorded, Samantha Petit reached on an error scoring Dechellis from second to make it 3-0.
Petit was the last Jackson player to reach base as Cantley retired the final 13 Polar Bears in striking out 6 in the process. The Junior pitcher has now held the opposition hitless in 16 of her last 18 innings pitched.
While Cantley made sure the deficit didn’t get any bigger in the circle, her teammates went to work in the batter’s box. Round 2 began with Sydney McKeever using her lightning speed to beat out a grounder to third for an infield single. Three pitches later, Teagan Rice blistered a single to center that was misplayed and carried all the way to the fence. McKeever scored on the play and Rice ended up at third. Louisville would cut the deficit to 3-2 in the next at-bat when Kaycee Ollis hit a sacrifice fly to deep right scoring Rice. A double play ended the threat, but the Leopards were still clawing.
Later in the fifth, Rice led off the inning with a single to left. After an out, Cantley came to the plate. She worked the count to 3-1, fouled off 3 pitches, and then went opposite field for what proved to be the game-winning 2-run homer. The dinger was her third in the last 6 days. Louisville has now gone yard 20 times as a team this season.
The Lady Leopards are now an even 33-33 all-time in tournament play which includes a 19-4 mark in tournament games played at home. Louisville finishes their second straight season with an undefeated record at the Diamond of Dreams going 10-0 for this campaign. The Leopards have now won 31 consecutive home games overall. This is also Louisville’s 7th Division I Sectional Championship in the last 8 seasons.
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UP NEXT: The Louisville Leopards Softball Team will next travel to Carrollton to take on the Warriors on Monday, May 14 at 5:00 PM.
Updated DI Massillon District Bracket
VARSITY SOFTBALL BOX SCORE
LEOPARDS 4, POLAR BEARS 3
JACKSON POLAR BEARS SOFTBALL VARSITY BATTING STATS
JACKSON POLAR BEARS SOFTBALL VARSITY PITCHING STATS
LOUISVILLE LEOPARDS SOFTBALL VARSITY BATTING STATS
LOUISVILLE LEOPARDS SOFTBALL VARSITY PITCHING STATS
Records: Louisville 21-1, 12-13