MARATHON — The skies were threatening the entire game until Marathon junior Breanna Mitchell threw her final pitch Thursday.
Mitchell got a ground ball to shortstop Daisy Allen, who fielded it and threw to first base for the final out as the Olympians came away with a 4-1 Section 4 Class D tournament victory over Schenevus just as the rain drops began to fall. The second-seeded Olympians improved to 17-4 with the semifinal win and will head to Saturday’s championship game for the second straight year. Waiting for them is the defending section champ and undefeated Deposit, which is 18-0 after a 19-0 win over fifth seed Gilboa-Conesville Thursday. Game time has not been announced.
Mitchell gave up the one run, allowed five hits and struck out six batters for the win.
Schenevus got two runners on base in each of the first two inning before the Dragons (16-3) final plated their lone run in the top of the third inning. Back-to-back errors and a hard infield single by pitcher Alexis Hults (3-for-3) that hit Mitchell’s hip put Schenevus runners on first and second base in the first inning. Hannah Osborne led off with fly ball that was dropped by Brie Carter, but she threw Osborne at second base on the play. Mitchell got out of the inning after the two runners reached base with a strikeout and a grounder back to her.
Marathon got out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Kaitlyn Mitchell got a lead-off walk and stole second base. Zoe Carter delivered an RBI single for the first run. Breanna Mitchell got Carter to third base with a single, but Mitchell was thrown out at second base. Allen hit a sacrifice fly to plate Carter.
Schenevus got the leadoff runner on by error in the second inning and a single by Claire Warner gave the Dragons their second scoring threat before Mitchell struck out the next three batters to keep them scoreless.
Schenevus got its lone run in the top of the third inning. Hults laced a double down the third base line with one out. She moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a groundout by Erika Spranger.
Marathon responded with a run in the bottom of the third inning as Allen singled to centerfield to score Carter, who had singled earlier.
Breanna Mitchell allowed a two-out single by Hults in the fifth that grazed her head and forced her to put on her pitching mask for the final seven batters she faced and retired. None of them hit the ball out of the infield.
“I trust my teammates,” the Marathon hurler said of working in and out of early trouble. “We work together well. My coaches help me a lot. They tell me to use my legs when I get tired. I also trust my catcher; she sets me up a lot.”
“Breanna settles in quickly,” Marathon coach Jamie Bush said. “When things get tough she really focuses and put her pitches where she needs to. She can get the strikeout or get the ball hit to where we can get the out.”
“It wasn’t hard,” Mitchell laughed when asked about wearing the pitching mask. “I don’t use it a lot, but (Hults) scared me. She hit me twice.”
Marathon got an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kaitlyn Mitchell (1-for-2) singled, stole second base and moved to third base on a passed ball as Carter (2-for-2) worked a walk. With two outs, Kristi Walley hit a ground ball to third base that was bobbled. as Mitchell scored.
Hults allowed six hits and recorded one strikeout, but clutch hits by Marathon took their toll.
“The girls focus well with two strikes and runners on base,” Bush said. “They know how to make contact with the ball. They do what they are told and what they are asked to do. When they do that, good things happen.”
Marathon has accomplished its goal of returning to the Class D title game, but is looking want a better effort than the 22-0 loss to Deposit one year ago. Multiple errors, no hits and 16 strikeouts by Lumberjacks ace Makenzie Stiles were the difference in that game.
“This was our goal from the beginning of the year,” Bush said. “One was winning our division, which we did. Two was getting back to the sectional finals and facing Deposit again. We want to have a little better game than the last time. They still have their ace pitcher (Stiles) and she will be a handful. We want to make a game of it this time.”
“We’re excited,” Breanna Mitchell added. We lost last year, but I think we’ve got it this year.”