Panthers end Otsego’s tourney run, 5-1


By Nicholas Huenefeld

Special to the Sentinel-Tribune

GENOA — Maumee second baseman Julia Coutcher played the role of villain in three integral plays that helped decide the outcome as the Otsego softball team saw its postseason run come to an end Saturday with a 5-1 loss to the Panthers in a Division II district semifinal at Genoa High School.

“I thought there were some deflections off some hard-hit balls that seemed to always go Maumee’s way,” Otsego coach Jason Colyer said. “Credit to them, but we put the ball hard in play. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.”

The first such moment came in the bottom of the first inning as Maumee put runners on second and third with two outs for Coutcher, who lofted a low line drive to right field just out of the reach of Otsego’s right fielder, Ava Weaver, as the Panthers took a 2-0 lead.

In the third, Otsego got a leadoff walk from Sabrina Martinez-Buehrer and back-to-back singles from Riley Rowe and Ryleigh O’Brien to load the bases with nobody out.

A flyout to center in the next at bat wasn’t deep enough to send Martinez-Buehrer, but that brought Cailyn Rider to the plate, who hit a hard chopper to short that deflected off Maumee’s shortstop, Lilly Duling, and directly to Coutcher at second, who stepped on second and threw to first for an inning-ending double play.

“I thought Maumee played well,” Colyer said. “They had some opportunities they took advantage of. Sometimes it comes down to a couple plays here and there. It is what it is.”

The third play came in Maumee’s half of the third as the Panthers mounted a two-out rally against Rowe with a walk and a single, setting up a line drive triple from Coutcher to deep right over the head of Weaver for a 4-0 margin.

“Our right fielder was in exactly the right place that we told her to be,” Colyer said. “Everything that we had looked at, some of those kids just bloop things over the infield, so we played her in. Credit to her, (Coutcher) had a base hit with runners in scoring position and burned us on that, but it’s not (Weaver’s) fault.”

A two-out RBI single to center from Rider got Otsego on the board in the fifth, but Maumee got that run back in the sixth as the Knights weren’t able to rally late.

Seven different players recorded at least one hit for Otsego (18-10), which was led by multi-hit games from O’Brien and Aubrey Hartman.

Rowe, who went 1-for-2 with a run and two walks from the leadoff spot, struck out nine and allowed three hits, three walks and five runs (two earned) over six frames.

For Maumee, Ruiz pitched every inning except the fifth. She allowed seven hits and two walks while striking out a pair to pick up the win.

With the victory, Maumee (20-8) advances to the regional semifinal round on Wednesday in Shelby against Bryan, which defeated Napoleon in a district final.

“I thought that our at bats today were the best they had been all season against Ruiz,” Colyer said. “Credit to our kids for making the adjustments and putting in the work.”

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