Blue Devils roughed up by perfect Clippers

Lisbon’s Sam Tinsley pitches against Columbiana on Wednesday. (Photo by Chris Rambo)

LISBON — With their early five-run lead reduced to two and the dangerous top of the Lisbon order due up, there was good reason for the Columbiana softball team to feel nervous as they came to bat in the top of the seventh inning.

“I told them we needed to get a run if not two because, with the way the wind was blowing, it was a hitters day and the top of their order slams the ball,” Columbiana coach Jerry Beltempo said.

The Clippers wound up doing far more than that.

Columbiana zapped any potential suspense from the outcome by erupting for 12 seventh-inning runs to defeat the Blue Devils 17-3 Wednesday at Allen Dickey Field. The unbeaten Clippers run their record to 12-0 overall and 6-0 in the Inter-Tri County League White Division, sewing up at least a share of the league title for the fourth season in a row. The Blue Devils–who have been Columbiana’s chief league rival for the last few years–drop to 5-8, 2-2.

“When the sixth inning ended, I was really flustered. I thought there was the possibility we could lose,” Columbiana pitcher Marisa McDonough said. “I felt a lot better going back out there for the seventh with a 14-run lead.”

An infield single by Alexis Cross and a bunt single by Kennedy Fullum to start the seventh set everything up for the Clippers. McDonough followed with an RBI double to left. Morgan Highley came up right behind her and ripped a two-run double down the third base line to make it 8-3 and give the Clippers the breathing room they were looking for.

“Once we started getting people on base, everyone in our dugout started getting excited and loud,” Highley said. “The feeling got contagious and everyone just started hitting.”

What followed was an endless stream of Columbiana base hits as the Clippers turned the game into a rout. Alyssa Tohm had two doubles and three RBIs in the seventh inning alone. Taylor Ross and Emily Gosselin also had RBI singles in the seventh, while Kennedy Fullum had a two-run single and Alexis Cross had two singles.

When the side was finally retired, the Clippers had sent 16 batters to the plate and racked up 13 hits. Five batters had two hits in the seventh.

“I loved the way we had it set up going into the seventh inning,” Lisbon coach Dave Crismon said. “Give them credit, they started hitting the ball hard and it just snowballed on us.”

The Clippers also used a big nine-run inning to defeat Lisbon 11-2 Tuesday. They outscored Lisbon 28-5 over their two games this season.

“We’ve been talking about Lisbon since our first indoor practice,” McDonough said. “It means a lot to beat them and get a share of the title.”

McDonough staked the Clippers to an early 2-0 lead with a wind-aided two-run double to the left-center field fence in the first. The Clippers made it 5-0 in the third on an RBI single by Highley and a throwing error by Lisbon.

The Blue Devils, though, made things very interesting over the next few innings. Hannah Deland got the Blue Devils on the board with an RBI single in the fourth after Devyn Flory led off with a double. With two outs in the fifth, Lisbon strung together a single by Kenedy Vrable, an RBI double by Flory and an RBI single by Autumn Oehlstrom (who also tripled in the first) to narrow the gap to 5-3.

The bottom of Lisbon’s lineup ensured that Vrable, Flory and Oehlstrom would get one last chance to affect the game when Karlee Pezzano singled and number-eight hitter Lindsi Welsh walked in the sixth. However, thanks to Columbiana’s offensive fireworks, it wound up not mattering.

“I thought yesterday our attitude wasn’t where we wanted it after a bad inning,” Crismon said. “I thought we did a good job coming out positive today and battling for six innings. Unfortunately, we’re still trying to feel our way through things for whatever reason. We’re still working on handling adversity better.”

The Clippers host Howland today. Lisbon hosts Lowellville. Columbiana can clinch the league title outright by beating Leetonia at home on Monday.

“After the game I told them this isn’t over; we have two more to go,” Beltempo said.

Game notes

¯Crismon said the Blue Devils hope to get power-hitting third baseman Kimmi Wiggers back next week from a dislocated knee. He hopes the Blue Devils are able to respond in the second half of the season like they did last year when they shook off two losses to Columbiana and wound up reaching a Div. IV regional semifinal.

“Getting Kimmi back is going to be nice for us,” Crismon said. “This is the same situation we were in last year and the girls re-grouped and put it together come tournament time. That’s going to be our goal as we move forward, We have a lot of softball left this season.”

C: 2-0-3-0-0-0-12–17-22-1

L: 0-0-0-1-2-0- 0– 3- 8-2

C–Marisa McDonough, wp, (7IP, 11K, 3BB) and Alexis Cross.

L–Sam Tinsley, lp, (7IP, 5K, 1BB) and Devyn Flory.