AKRON — While a walk-off home run is not a rare occurrence, a “walk-on” is much less common to the point where few may know what one is.
On Friday at Akron’s Firestone Stadium, Antwerp junior Karsyn Brumett defined it quite powerfully.
In a hurlers’ brawl between two of Ohio’s premier D-IV pitchers that produced nearly three times more strikeouts than hits, Brumett railed a leadoff round-tripper against Peebles senior sizzler Madison Pierce that helped the Archers “walk on” to today’s OHSAA Softball State Championship via a 1-0 triumph over the Lady Indians.
It was a dramatic state debut for the Lady Archers (21-2), who will continue the program’s historic season in the D-IV state finale against No. 4 Mechanicsburg (21-3) at 9 a.m.
“Amazing, unbelievable … just shell-shocking, really. It’s just amazing,” said an elated Antwerp head coach Krista Ordway of the semifinal victory. “I really don’t know what other words to say besides ‘wow.’ I’m just so proud of this team and all the hard work they’ve done all year and just … everything. They’ve done everything that we’ve asked them to do.
“I wasn’t expecting Karsyn to punch it over in her first time up to bat, but hey, it only takes one hit, one run to win a game,” she said. “That’s what we had to do today and that’s how we got it done.”
To fully grasp how huge the game-opening shot over the fence in left was, you first have to soak in how premium hits of any kind were on a day when Pierce and Antwerp junior jinx Carlie Hanes matched one another nearly step for step in a state-worthy pitching clinic.
Hanes clearly cast a bad luck spell on the Peebles batting order, fanning 13 and walking one while giving up just four hits on the day. Pierce, meanwhile, also walked one and surrendered four hits.
But the senior Lady Indian went on to record 15 punch-outs, matching a state record for Ks in a D-IV state tournament game.
So without fully knowing just how crucial each at-bat would turn out to be, Brumett turned on a lofty Pierce pitch in the top of the first frame that proved to be the shot heard ‘round Firestone Stadium in the Archers’ one-run win.
“The first pitches, I think, were just fastballs, and they were kind of inside. So I was like, ‘Ah, I need to crowd the plate and maybe they’ll call them balls next time,’” said the Antwerp junior catcher and leadoff hitter. “Then she pitched it and it was just right in my zone. It was kind of low … I like the low pitches. It just happened.”
And it happened dramatically, quickly lighting a fire in the Antwerp dugout that soon spread into the field.
“There were a couple people who were like, ‘Hey, you’re gonna set the tone for this game.’ And I was like, ‘Man, I’m kinda nervous now,’” she added. “The whole day I was pretty nervous because I’m the first batter in this whole entire game, and how the game goes depends on whatever I do. But I just know that my teammates had my back and them going crazy like that just made me keep going.”
Hanes took it from there, following up Brumett’s blast by ringing up five of her baker’s dozen strikeouts in the first two innings.
The Antwerp hurler found her spots well, keeping the Lady Indians guessing with a mix of pitches and movement around the corners that resulted in 77 strikes out of 114 pitches thrown through seven frames. Hanes’ command in the circle on Friday also factored into seven strikeouts with an even or full count against a Peebles squad which entered the state semi batting over .400 as a team.
“I knew I was down in the count, but it was kind of like, ‘OK, I know that I can’t walk this player,’” said Hanes. “Because if they even get on, and say we make an error or something, that runner could be the winning run. So I was doing my best to try and keep them off the bases.”
Of the six Indians that did reach base, none of them were granted access beyond first due to Hanes’ arm and a sharp Antwerp fielding presence. And in the one chance they got to press their luck, Brumett struck again.
This time from behind the dish rather than beside it.
After Peebles senior nine-hitter Jerilin Toller reached on a single in the home half of the first with one away, Brummet rifled a sharp throw to second in time to squelch Toller’s steal attempt. From there, freshman Samantha Rigsby wrapped up the frame with a 5-3 play from the hot corner that stifled what was the Indians’ best shot at knotting the game.
“Not too many people have stolen on Karsyn this year; she’s got a heck of an arm,” said Ordway. “So that was huge, that was like a tone setter. And then they didn’t steal the rest of the night, so that makes it even better. Our defense has Carlie’s back on every play, catching the pop-flies and the grounders. It’s just really a team effort, and that’s all we can ask from this team.”
The Indians got a runner on in each of their last four at-bats to no avail, including a slight bobble in the bottom of the seventh that left Peebles hoping that Hope Brown would keep hope alive on first with one out.
But Hanes recorded strikeouts No. 12 and 13 at the bottom of the order, closing out the win and sending the Lady Archers to the ultimate destination.
“She threw a nice game. She kept it in and out on us,” said Peebles coach Doug McFarland. “We got kids on, but she was able to get the out when she needed it. Give her a lot of credit. I thought we would have an opportunity when we got some kids on to move them around, but we weren’t able to.
“I’ll tell you what, it was a great game to be a part of … an awesome game,” he exclaimed. “I mean, it was a 1-0 game in the state tournament semis and two young kids out there working their butt off in the circle that threw a great game.”
Mechanicsburg rolled to a 7-3 win over Jeromesville Hillsdale to close out Friday’s D-IV semifinal dust-ups, setting itself up as the final challenge for an Antwerp squad at the state level for the first time in program history with a chance to prove itself as the best in Ohio.
“Wow, yay, wooo … I don’t even know … I’m just overly excited,” exclaimed Ordway. “It’s just an amazing feeling. I can’t even explain it right now. We’ve always dreamed of this. Like even when I was in high school, I dreamed of this going to state, getting to that championship game.
“That has always been every girl’s dream that has ever played softball,” she added. “That is our goal, and we’re here and we get to play another day. It’s exciting.”
Antwerp 100 000 0 — 1 4 1
Peebles 000 000 0 — 0 4 1
Records: Antwerp 21-2, Peebles 24-3.
Winning pitcher: Carlie Hanes (7 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 13 strikeouts, 1 walk).
Losing pitcher: Madison Pierce (7 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 15 strikeouts, 1 walk).
Leading hitters: (Antwerp) — Karsyn Brumett single, home run; Alyssa Fuller double.