Softball: Russia players ‘played their hearts out’ in extra innings regional loss to Parkway


CLAYTON — A Division IV regional semifinal between Russia and Parkway played out far differently than a regular-season matchup the teams played earlier this month. The victor was different, too.

Russia fought off Parkway with great defensive plays in the seventh and eighth, but the Panthers pushed across one run in the bottom of the ninth to earn a 2-1 win in extra innings on Wednesday at Northmont High School.

It was the third straight season Russia had won a district final to advance to regionals.

“This was a game of inches today,” Russia coach Michelle Muhlenkamp said. “It was awesome back-and-forth ball, and a matter of inches where the ball fell. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for us today.

“I told the girls it’s going to sting for a while, but when you look back on this game, there’s no reason to hang your heads on this game. They came out and did exactly what we asked them to do. They competed, had fun, and played their hearts out.”

Russia finishes the season with an 18-8 overall record. The Raiders will lose eight seniors to graduation, including pitcher Makena Hoying, who was voted the Shelby County Athletic League player of the year for the second consecutive season.

The squad will also lose Cece Borchers, Reese Goubeaux, Kelby Doseck, Simone Puthoff, Eliza Gariety, Audrey Stickel and Lindsey Vastano to graduation.

“As far as the seniors go, they’ve impacted this program more than people realize,” Muhlenkamp said. “More than the district championships and Shelby County League championships in the past, they’ve impacted younger kids and the young kids in the dugout.

“I’m a sixth-grade teacher, and today I heard my sixth graders playing kickball, and they were singing the same cheers these girls sing in the dugout. …They watch them, they learn what this program is all about. That’s the seniors leading that.

“I told them their time here is done, but they’ve done more than they know for this program.”

Parkway nearly broke the tie in the seventh and eighth.

Emmery Temple hit a line-drive single to right with one out in the seventh, then Brittyn Bruns hit a double on a fly ball to left.

With runners on third and second, Madison Louth hit a pop to shallow left field that looked to be trouble for Russia. But Jaela Shappie came running up and made a diving catch for the second out, and Temple was held up at third watching the play.

Henkle then hit a ground out to second to end the inning.

Russia went down in order in the eighth, but Parkway threatened again in the bottom half.

Stephenson was hit by a pitch and stole second. Adria Miller hit a fly out to center field, then Avery White hit a liner to center, and Goubeaux made a diving catch for the out and quick throw to the infield to hold Stephenson at second. A pop out from Maddie Jacobs ended the inning.

Kori Goubeaux drew a two-out walk in the ninth for Russia but was thrown out on a fielder’s choice grounder at second.

The Panthers finally broke the tie in the top half.

Audrey Nichols hit a line-drive double to left, then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Temple.

After looking at two strikes, Bruns fouled one off along the right-field line, then hit a line-drive single to right to push across Nichols and end it.

Parkway took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second on three hits. Miller scored on a sacrifice bunt by White.

Russia tied it in the sixth. Hoying was hit by a pitch, then Doseck hit a single to right. Saige Hoying hit a fielder’s choice that resulted in Doseck being thrown out at second for the first out.

Borchers then hit a pop out for the second out, but two throwing errors allowed courtesy runner Laci Phlipot to score. Miller threw from second to catcher Meah Suzuki, but the throw went passed Suzuki into foul territory along the third-base line. Suzuki then tried throwing back, to the infield, and Phlipot took off and scored with ease to tie it.

Shay Hammonds hit a line drive to right, but Nichols made a diving catch for the third out to keep the game tied.

Hoying gave up two earned runs on 11 hits and two walks in 8 1/3 innings while striking out two batters.

Henkle gave up one earned run on seven hits and three walks in nine innings while striking out two batters.

Parkway committed two errors, while Russia didn’t commit any.

Reese Goubeaux was 3 for 4 for Russia with two doubles. Shappie was 2 for 4.

Stephenson was 3 for 3 for Parkway and Bruns was 3 for 4 with one double.

Russia beat the Panthers 14-7 on May 5 in Rockford. Parkway had eight hits that night off Hoying, while the Raiders had nine hits off Henkle, who gave up 10 earned runs.

“We got base runners on quite a bit (today), but stringing those solid hits together, we couldn’t do that,” Muhlenkamp said. “They play good D. They had a couple rough innings but they made the plays in the outfield when they needed to.

“I think the difference today was just stringing the hits together. That night we played them, we strung a lot of hits together in a row. Tonight, it was piecemeal. We still had a lot of hits, just not in the same inning.”

Parkway (20-5) advances to face Covington in a regional final on Friday at Northmont.

Covington 9, Riverside 1

Meg Rogers said while in the on-deck circle in the bottom of the third after seeing one pitch from Riverside’s Alaina Snow: “She ain’t giving me that.”

Rogers apparently wasn’t lying.

After the batter at the plate struck out, Rogers sent the first pitch of her at bat over the center-field fence to give the squad a 2-0 lead and jump start a big win in Wednesday’s first regional semifinal.

It was the first regional appearance since 2017 for Riverside, which finishes 15-11.

Covington (28-4) advances to face Parkway in Friday’s regional final. The game is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. at Northmont.

The teams had both stranded runners before Covington struck in the third.

Taylor Foutz drew a walk with one out. After Snow struck out Erika Gostomsky for her third strikeout of the day, Rogers slammed her homer over the center-field fence.

Covington stranded runners on third and second in the fourth but added three more in the fifth to take a 5-0 lead.

Gostomsky led off the inning with a line-drive single to center field, then Rogers hit an RBI double to right field. Nigella Reck hit a grounder to second base and reached on an error, and Rogers scored on the same error.

The Buccaneers pushed across another run with two outs when Karyanne Turner hit a fly to center field and reached on an error.

Riverside cut into the gap in the sixth.

Jade Copas hit a solo home run with one out to cut the gap to 5-1. Snow was hit by a pitch, then Riley Dillon hit a single to right to move Snow to third.

But Rogers struck out Zoie Armbruster and coaxed a pop out from Jaidyn Jackson to get out of the inning.

Covington pulled away, though, by scoring four in the bottom half off a double, two walks and two errors.

Rogers was 3 for 3 with 3 RBIs with one home run and one double. Mara Newhouse was 2 for 4 with one double and Gostomsky was 1 for 2. Anderson hit one double and had 3 RBIs.

Rogers pitched a complete game and gave up one earned run on four hits and one walk while striking out nine batters.

Snow was charged with the loss. She pitched six innings and gave up four earned runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out four batters.

Riverside will lose three seniors to graduation, including Snow, who was a first team all-Three Rivers Conference selection. Copas, also a first-team selection, will also graduate, along with Daisy Armbruster.

Covington beat the Pirates 10-2 and 18-5 in TRC play in regular season.

Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.

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