Rowe shuts down Eagles in 3-0 district win


By Nicholas Huenefeld

Special to the Sentinel-Tribune

GENOA — Riley Rowe delivered a three-hit performance while twirling a masterful performance in the circle to give the Otsego softball team a 3-0 win over Eastwood on Wednesday in a Division II district semifinal at Genoa High School.

“I thought Riley was fantastic,” Otsego coach Jason Colyer said. “The first couple times we played them, the first four (in Eastwood’s lineup) kind of set the tone. We held them to just one hit tonight, so anytime you can keep their best off the bases, it’s good for us.”

With the victory, the Knights (17-9) advance to face Maumee (19-7) in the district final on Saturday at noon.

Rowe, who allowed just three hits and struck out five, managed to attain a complete game shutout despite walking nine batters. It was just the second time all season that Eastwood didn’t score a run.

“The umpire had a pretty tight zone,” Rowe said. “I was just trying to figure out what he was going to call a strike and how to work around it.”

Colyer said a nine-walk shutout may be a first for him, but he was pleased because it ultimately didn’t hurt his team.

“That was the important thing,” he said. “I think Riley was composed the whole way through. She trusted her defense to make plays. Evelyn Rider made a great backhand play, and Cailyn Rider made a great play to get the force out at home to save a run.

“I’m just pretty proud of our team today. I think we did a nice job one through nine. Our bench players stepped up, too, and did their job. It was a team win.”

The Knights broke a scoreless tie with two runs in the third, which featured a crucial rundown play at third base.

With one out, Rowe tripled to right field. Ryleigh O’Brien then laid down a bunt as Eastwood forced a rundown with Rowe, who won the pickle to stay in scoring position for Evelyn Rider, who knocked her in with a sacrifice fly the next at bat.

“The play was called to fake throw and get in a rundown,” Eastwood coach Joe Wyant said. “We did a good job with that part of it, but the problem was we threw the ball five times. We threw it too many times, and the wrong people had the ball. We didn’t do a very good job there. That gave them life.”

A dropped infield pop-up accounted for the second run, and Otsego later added an insurance run in the seventh. Rowe had a leadoff triple, and courtesy runner Gracie Zsigray scored moments later on a sacrifice fly from Cailyn Rider.

Meanwhile, Rowe was pitching out of jams she teamed with her defense to strand seven runners in scoring position. That included escaping a bases loaded jam with one out in the sixth and second and third scenarios in the fourth and seventh innings.

A fielder’s choice out at home and a groundout to first erased the Eastwood rally in the sixth.

“We didn’t get any clutch hits,” Wyant said. “We only had three hits, and you’re not going to win ballgames with three hits. We just didn’t get two-out hits.

“Rowe didn’t pitch her best game. Normally, if you tell me she is going to walk nine, we’ll probably get more hits. But she did a nice job in between the walks.”

Rowe finished 3-for-3 with a run and a walk at the plate, accounting for 75 percent of Otsego’s hits off Eastwood’s Cassi Kieper, who took the tough-luck loss despite striking out 11. Only one of her three runs allowed was earned.

“I think it was just trying to stay down,” Rowe said of her approach against Kieper. “She has a good riseball, so I was just trying to see it lower in the zone.”

Otsego now sits one win away from a trip to regionals but must get past fellow NBC rival Maumee, who came back from a 7-1 deficit to defeat Lake 15-8 in the other semifinal.

“Maumee is a well-coached and very good team,” Colyer said. “We’re going to have our work cut out for us, and we’re going to have to grind out another game.”

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