Jackets pounce on Blue Devils, 11-3


By Nicholas Huenefeld

Special to the Sentinel-Tribune

PERRYSBURG — Ella Leonard delivered two of the biggest plays of the game for Perrysburg on Saturday, helping the Yellow Jackets pick up a crucial 11-3 win over Springfield at home.

Leonard went the opposite way for a game-tying leadoff solo home run in the home half of the fifth inning for Perrysburg, just after Springfield’s Cam Hall delivered a three-run home run to give the Blue Devils a 3-2 lead the previous half inning.

The blast helped spur a five-run frame for Perrysburg, who got a two-run single with the bases loaded from Hayley Griggs and an RBI groundout from Maddie Von Sacken in the inning.

“I was just so proud of how they responded,” Perrysburg coach Ryan DeMars said. “We talk all the time about needing to flip the switch between innings. So when that defensive inning came to an end, we needed to score runs. We talked about having to get some people on base, scoring some runs and making an adjustment, and they just responded in a huge way.”

When the dust settled, Perrysburg led 7-3, but the job wasn’t done as Springfield’s Ava Littin hit a high fly ball deep to left leading off the sixth. Leonard, however, retreated to the fence, jumped and robbed the Blue Devils (9-3, 3-2 NLL) of a potential momentum swinging home run as centerfielder Jessica Miller was there awaiting her with a big hug in celebration.

“I was just reading it normal,” Leonard said. “I thought it was a normal pop up. I really didn’t realize how close to the fence I was. But I went up, kind of just put my hand up like it was a normal pop fly, and I just snagged it.”

Perrysburg’s catcher Sophie Halm then made a nice grab on a foul pop up just in front of the fence for the second out. Despite a two-out double, Springfield’s scoreless inning ended with a fly out to right.

“I was super happy with our defense,” DeMars said. “I thought we made some outstanding plays. (Sophie) making the catch on the foul ball, and Ella just had a tremendous game at the plate and on defense, getting all the way back to the fence, seeing the ball in and never giving up on it.”

Leonard wasn’t done, though, as Perrysburg’s seven-hole hitter delivered a leadoff triple in the sixth before scoring two batters later on a single from Yesenia You. The Yellow Jackets tacked on a two-run single from Maison Gerrard and an RBI single from Miller as they took an 11-3 lead through six.

Gerrard retired Springfield 1-2-3 in the seventh to close out the win. The senior pitcher allowed just six hits and one walk while going the distance.

“I just depended on my team,” Gerrard said. “I know I’m not going to strike out every batter, and Springfield is a really great hitting team, so I just depended on my defense. Hayley at short, Alyssa at third, everybody else … Ella especially in the outfield robbing that home run made me feel really good that I could depend on everybody out there on the field.”

Earlier in the game, Perrysburg led 2-0 after producing a pair of solo home runs – the first from Griggs with two outs in the first and then from Miller leading off in the fourth.

Griggs and Miller – Perrysburg’s 3-4 combination in the lineup – had three hits apiece for a combined 6-for-7 with four runs and five RBI. Leonard was 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI while You also tacked on a multi-hit performance along with a pair of runs and an RBI. Morgan Hoverman padded on a pair of runs from the leadoff spot.

With the victory, Perrysburg (11-2, 4-1 NLL) got a measure of revenge for three losses to Springfield last year, including a season-ending defeat in the district championship game while picking up a crucial league victory, especially coming off Thursday’s loss to Anthony Wayne.

“You just have to stay focused,” Leonard said. “I felt like I was really in the zone today. We all were. We wanted revenge. We had the opportunity to lay down and just accept the defeat when they started hitting. They’re a good hitting team, so they’re going to respond to our offense, but I think we were all just really focused and so excited.”

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