GREENTOWN — The third time turned out not to be the charm for the Taylor softball squad as Eastern improved to 3-0 on the season over its backyard rival Wednesday night, ousting the Titans from the Class 2A Eastern Sectional 15-0 in five innings.
Abby Oyler tossed a two-hitter and the Comet bats were cracking early as Eastern (19-4) took a 12-0 lead after two innings.
“Those first two innings, our bats were just smashing that ball,” Eastern coach Jerry Haines said. “Every ball we hit was just a shot. We only beat them 3-0 last time, and I’ve been around long enough to know that sometimes you go out and it’s not there for you and the other team is playing super. We just took them out of the game with the hitting.”
The win set the stage for the No. 4-ranked Comets to take on Tipton in Friday’s 6 p.m. championship. The Devils, who blanked Alexandria 6-0 in Wednesday’s first semifinal, defeated Eastern 1-0 in an 11-inning pitchers’ duel on April 22.
“The way we lost that game, we got two hits, they got one hit and it scored the winning run,” Haines said of duel between Oyler and Devils ace Shelby Hursh. “We made an error with two outs in the 11th and they hit a double and scored. It’s going to be all about who can get those runs in when runners are in scoring position.”
Errors weren’t an issue Wednesday as the Comets were impeccable in the field. Oyler retired 14 of the 18 batters she faced, but only three were by strikeout as the Titans were connecting on the junior hurler, but Oyler’s supporting cast took care of Taylor’s bats.
“Taylor put the ball in play, but the girls were playing sharp on defense, no doubt about it,” Haines said.
Already down 4-0, the Titans’ only baserunning threat came in the top of the second when Taylor (5-20) put runners on first and second with one-out singles from Brie Boehler and Taylor Mosier. Oyler struck out the next batter and Maddie Vint snagged a fly ball in right field to end any chance of a rally.
“Our girls hit the ball, [Eastern] just made every play, even when we hit it hard,” Taylor coach Shane Arnold said. “Eastern is a phenomenal club, solid top to bottom. They’re fundamentally sound, and they have a stud in the circle. She’s the real deal.”
Oyler improved to 16-4 with the win.
“She pitched a solid game,” Haines said. “I’m sure it’s comforting, when you get that four-run lead in the first inning, to go out and feel a little easier about pitching.”
Eastern stung Taylor freshman pitcher Rachel Hafly early, plating four runs on five hits in the first inning. Ally Oyler led off with a double and Abby Oyler knocked her in with a double. The Comets got RBI hits from Alyssa Haalck, Quinlyn Hochstedler and Vint that accounted for the next three runs.
The Comets sent ten batters to the plate in the second, opening the floodgates with eight runs on seven hits. Kelsey Russell’s infield single started the rally and Ally Oyler belted a two-run homer over the center field fence for a 6-0 lead. In all, the Comets had six straight hits while seven of the first eight batters reached base in the inning and essentially nailed the lid on Taylor’s season.
“After that first inning, a lot of teams would have given up, but my girls never did,” Arnold said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the girls. They laid it all out on the field. Against Eastern, you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game and hope they have their ‘B’ game to have a shot, and that didn’t happen for us.”
Eastern added three more runs in the fourth on singles from Hochstedler, Kirstin Jones and Russell.
Russell was 3 of 3 at the plate with an RBI. Brooke Stout hit 3 of 4 with two RBI. Haalck was 2 of 3 with two RBI. Ally and Abby Oyler each went 2 of 4.