Miller’s HR wins district title for Perrysburg


By Yaneek Smith

Special to the Sentinel-Tribune

CLYDE — Perrysburg center fielder Jessica Miller got to live out the dream of every little girl that loves softball.

Miller lined a 2-2 pitch from Springfield pitcher Callee Chappetta about 10 feet over the left-field fence and roughly five feet inside of the foul pole to give the Yellow Jackets a 9-8 win in eight innings in a win over the Blue Devils in a Division I district final at Joe Wilson Field in Clyde.

It was quite a relief for Perrysburg, which improved to 24-4 with the victory, because it blew an 8-2 lead, allowing Springfield (20-8) back in the game when it seemed like the Jackets would close it out without much drama.

It was a thriller, one that saw the two teams combine for three home runs, 17 runs while striking out just four times.

Perrysburg had lost to the Blue Devils in each of the previous two seasons in a district final, making the victory that much sweeter.

Miller, who is the cleanup hitter in the Jackets lineup, went 3-for-4 and nearly hit for the cycle, finishing with a home run, a double, a single and a walk.

“I was really hoping to hit a line drive just to get on base,” Miller said. “A walk is a walk. I was going to be on base and I knew at some point (that) I was going to be that winning run.

“I was so excited and over-the-top when it cleared the fence.”

Perrysburg will return to Clyde on Wednesday at 5 p.m. to face North Ridgeville in a regional semifinal.

Springfield coach Rob Gwozdz praised Miller.

“She’s a great hitter. We tried to stay inside on her. We didn’t want her to extend her arms,” said Gwozdz. “She’s a great kid and a great player. She got us.

“That’s what big-time players do.”

Perrysburg coach Ryan DeMars talked about what Miller brings to the table.

“Obviously with Jess up at the plate, we know she’s got power and knew that was a possibility,” Perrysburg coach Ryan DeMars said. “I was really happy to see good, solid contact come off the bat. It was awesome.”

DeMars talked about the Jackets exorcising their district demons.

“Springfield is a great team. We knew it was going to be a battle, (but) we were still positive even after we gave up the lead,” he said. “Being able to come out and get a win and a championship, especially against a team like Springfield, is just awesome.”

A key sequence came with the Jackets leading, 8-2, and seemingly in control of the game.

The Blue Devils scored four runs in the fifth and two in the sixth, tying it up when Camryn Eckhart hit a single to center to score Ava Litten, who had reached on a throwing error and moved up to second in the previous at-bat, which saw Camryn Hall scored to cut the deficit to one run.

In the fifth, Hall reached on a bunt single, Chappetta hit a single to right, but the next two batters were retired before Kenya Crowley hit a double to right, scoring both runners. Then, Olivia Rompf hit a home run to left field, and the deficit was cut to two.

A key sequence came in the bottom of the third when the inning appeared to be over after Perrysburg shortstop Hayley Griggs, though she appeared to be safe, was thrown out at home following a single by Yesenia You, leaving the score tied, 1-1.

But after DeMars had a discussion with the umpires, who gathered and had a talk amongst themselves. The crew decided to rule that Eckhart, the catcher, had blocked Griggs’ path to home plate. Griggs was sent to third base and You took second.

The next batter, Maison Gerrard, lined a bullet to left field, scoring both runners, and after Miller was intentionally walked, Ky Thomas hit a shot to nearly the exact same spot, and another two runs scored, giving the Jackets a 5-1 lead.

Gerrard, who was lifted for Maddie Von Sacken in the fifth, allowed six runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings of work to go with a walk. Von Sacken last 3.1 innings, allowing two runs on two. Hits to go with two strikeouts.

“When I came in, I had faith in my defense,” said Von Sacken. “After Springfield tied it, I knew we had the bats to come back and win it.

“Knowing Springfield had beaten us (in the two years), we came ready to play. It’s such a great moment.”

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