By Dan Woodlock
Times-Junction Sports Editor
The Lady Flashes did not get to finish their near-six inning opening week win over Seneca East.
But oh, did they ever finish off Week Two against Shelby.
Willard’s 18U softball team staged a three-run fourth inning comeback and clamped down on the Lady Whippets over the final three innings of play to pull out a 5-3 victory in an early battle of undefeated teams in Mid-Ohio Softball League action in Plymouth.
Madie Secor slammed an opposite field inside-the-park three-run home run to erase a 3-1 deficit and reliever Taylor Chaffins closed the door on any Shelby hopes for a rally effort with three innings of shut-out pitching, dropping the Lady Whippets to 2-1 and propelling Willard to a 2-0 mark.
Shelby starting pitcher, Bri Wagoner, limited the Lady Flashes to one unearned run on three hits over the first three innings, before running into trouble in the fourth.
Julia Luevano worked a lead-off walk for Willard and advanced to second on a throwing error by the Shelby catcher. She moved up on a ground out, and after an infield single by Emily Nedolast, both runners scored ahead of Secor, who rifled a line-shot to deep rightfield for the team’s first home run of the summer season.
Secor played a role in Willard’s first run of the game, as well, as she reached on an error with one out in the first and scored two batters later on an RBI-single by Makayla Schiffel.
The Lady Whippets committed five errors in the contest that cost them a pair of unearned runs, including an insurance tally in the seventh. Nedolast, who finished 2-for-3 with a stolen base, collected a single that plated Ashlee Tuttle, who led off the inning with a sharp single to center off reliever Katie Steele.
Shelby put together what looked to be a potential game-breaking inning in the second, as their first four batters, and five of the first six, reached safely.
Taightam Hicks and Wagoner led off with back-to-back singles against Schiffel, who earned her second consecutive winning decision for the Lady Flashes.
Esabel Machado then smacked an RBI-single and Sophia Grimm was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs.
But Schiffel was able to get Brileigh Gates to bounce into a force out at home, and although Rachel Ensman worked an ensuing bases-loaded walk to give Shelby a 2-1 edge, Schiffel escaped further damage with a strikeout and a fly ball out to end the inning.
The Lady Whippets extended their lead to 3-1 in the top of the fourth, using a pair of two-out singles by Emma Taylor and C.C. Gurney to plate Ensman, who reached on a fielder’s choice.
Schiffel struck out five and walked two over her four innings of work, yielding seven hits.
Chaffins came on in the fifth and set Shelby down in order with a strikeout, before working out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. Grimm and pinch-hitter Macy Robinette led off with back-to-back singles and Taylor walked with one out.
But Chaffins pulled the plug on the rally, retiring Gurney on a pop-up and getting Steele to chop into a fielder’s choice at home. Catcher Jena Adams pounced on the ball and beat Robinette back to the plate to retire the side.
Shelby’s Lizzy Vogt singled with two outs in the seventh, but was stranded there, as Chaffins capped her scoreless relief effort by retiring Grimm on a fly ball to Elli White in center to end the game.
Shelby outhit Willard, 10-8, but stranded 10 baserunners in the contest. Gurney and Hicks each went 2-for-4 for the Lady Whippets.
Kaiten Weiss contributed her second double in as many games for Willard. Sierra Lewis singled and walked in her two plate appearances, while White also reached on a bunt single.Chaffins lowered her summer earned run average to 1.00 in seven innings of work. She and Schiffel have combined for a 2.15 ERA over 13 innings.