PLEASANT HILL — Fort Loramie has hit relatively consistently through the season. The squad was able to do so again in a Division IV district final on Tuesday at Newton High School.
The Redskins racked up 17 hits, four of which came in the seventh to help them secure a 13-9 win over Covington and earn a district final berth. Fort Loramie, the Dayton sectional’s No. 7 seed, advances to face No. 1 Mechanicsburg in a district final on Friday in Versailles.
Fort Loramie (17-10) built a 9-2 lead before Covington scored four runs in the fifth and two in the sixth to pull within 9-8. But the Redskins scored four runs on four hits and one walk in the seventh to secure the victory.
Ella Hoelscher started Fort Loramie in the seventh with a one-out single to left field, then Jaden Rose hit a bunt single to third base. Ava Turner hit a single on a grounder to right to score Hoelscher, then Rose scored on a fielding error.
Laney Barhorst followed with a double to right, then Aubrey Baker drove in Turner with a sacrifice fly. Barhorst then scored on a passed ball to push the advantage to 13-8.
“Being able to get that big burst at the start (of the seventh) was huge,” Turner said. “We were able to keep it separated. It got tight, but we were able to seal the deal.
“Ava Turner had two strikes on her, but she just battled with runners on second and third. You’ve got to put the bat on the ball in that situation, and we did.”
Covington had four hits in the bottom of the seventh but came up with just one run.
The Redskins were able to get a crucial out in the inning. After Maggie Anderson hit a one-out single to left to get the Buccaneers started, she was thrown out trying to advance to third after Reaghan Lehmp followed with a single.
It was one of several baserunning mistakes the Buccaneers (18-7) made. There were three instances runners made outs at third base, two of which came no outs in the inning.
One instance was in the first inning. Fort Loramie scored four runs in the top half, but Meg Rogers and Karyanne Turner each hit singles to get Covington going in the bottom half.
Nigella Reck hit a double to score Rogers, but Karyanne Turner went too far around third base and was picked off. The next batter struck out, then a ground out ended the inning.
“One of the words we’ve been using all season is ‘improv,’” Turner said. “Sometimes you have to do something that you haven’t done before. We were able to do that. We took advantage of some baserunning miscues they had, got some girls off.”
The Redskins had 17 hits and committed three errors, while Covington had 14 hits and committed four errors.
“Our seniors had not won a tournament game before this year, including the (canceled) COVID season their sophomore year,” Turner said. “We had always been beaten by power pitching. That’s been something from the get-go this year we’ve worked on.
“Meg Rogers is a nice pitcher Covington has there. We know she can throw with some nice speed, and we tried to get the bat sped up, and it helped us out there big time.”
Kate Ruhenkamp picked up the win in the circle. She pitched six innings and gave up three earned runs on 10 hits and three walks while striking out three batters.
Hoelscher was 4 for 4 with 2 RBIs and two doubles while Barhorst was 2 for 5 with two doubles and Claire Hoying was 2 for 4 with one walk.
Autumn Turner was 2 for 4 with 4 RBIs. She hit her first career home run on a three-run blast to center field in the fifth. Autumn Turner, who plays short stop, is Brad Turner’s daughter, along with third baseman Aubrey Turner. Ava Turner, an outfielder/catcher, is his niece.
“Proud Dad moment there,” Brad Turner said of the home run. “… It’s been fun seeing them all come through. Hopefully we have some more fun ahead of us.”
Turner is hoping that experience against fast pitching helps when the squad faces Mechanicsburg (18-2) on Friday. The Indians, which were ranked No. 3 in D-IV in the most recent state coaches association poll, beat Franklin-Monroe 11-0 in five innings in a district semifinal to advance.
He said it will be the squad’s first district final berth since 2015.
“I’m really proud of them,” Turner said. “… We’ve played some really good teams with very good pitching, knowing this is what it’s going to take to win games like this. I’m glad to see that has paid off.”
After Fort Loramie took a 4-1 lead in the first, neither squad scored until Covington scored one run in the bottom of the fourth. Fort Loramie then scored five runs in the top of the fifth to take a 9-2 lead before Covington scored six runs over the next two innings to close the gap.
It was Fort Loramie’s second win over Covington this season. The Redskins beat the Buccaneers 13-3 in a nonconference game in regular season.