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Lady Tigers drop district heartbreaker

M’Kenzie McMaster (right) gets ready to cross home plate as her Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers’ teammates await to congratulate her after belting a home run in Thursday’s Division III district semifinal game. (Photo Courtesy of Tim Gearhart)

Jim Walker

CHILLICOTHE — It came down to one swing of the bat.
A grand slam home run by Ayzia Fullen capped a five-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Westfall Lady Mustangs downed the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers 12-9 in the Division III district semifinals on Thursday.
“It was a tough loss but I felt the girls never gave up,” said Ironton coach Missy Fields. “One play can shift the momentum so quickly. We just couldn’t connect the hits in the last couple of innings.”
The heartbreaking loss came despite the fact Ironton outhit Westfall 12-11. The Lady Fighting Tigers end the season at 17-6.
“I hate to see this season end. These girls have worked so hard this year. They have been a joy to coach,” said Fields.
“We are a young team. We lose just one senior, but what big shoes we will need to fill without Aley (Carmon). She brought so much to our team for four years. She can and would play any position we asked her to do. She loves the game.”
Ironton took a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Kenzie Cremeens double, moved to third on Taiya Hamlet’s ground out and score on a hit by Carmon. Ruth Paholsky was safe on an error as Carmon scored.
Westfall came back to score four times in the second inning.
Sami Tackett walked and Holley Webb put down a sacrifice. Makayla Terry then doubled for a run and she scored on Marcy Dudgeon’s double. Becca Brown and Darby Minor also followed with RBI doubles.
But the Lady Tigers answered with four runs of their own in the top of the third to lead 6-4.
Cremeens walked, Hamlet singled, they moved up on a wild pitch and Paholsky drilled a two-run single to tie the game. M’Kenzie McMaster then belted a two-run home run to give Ironton the lead.
Ironton got a run in the top of the fourth when Cremeens singled, stole second and scored on Carmon’s base hit.
Westfall scored three times in the bottom of the inning to tie the game.
Josie Williams doubled, Dudgeon was safe on an error and a passed ball scored Williams.
An out later, Minor singled, Emily Robinson had a sacrifice and Fullen singled in two runs.
Ironton came right back to get a run in the fifth to take an 8-7 lead.
McMaster walked, stole second and scored on a hit by Peighton Rowe.
And then came the crucial sixth inning.
Dudgeon singled and Brown was safe on an error. Minor then singled home the tying run.
Robinson put down a sacrifice bunt attempt but reached first base safely to load the bases. Fullen then followed with her grand slam homer and it was 12-8.
The Lady Tigers refused to quit as they mounted a rally in the top of the seventh.
McMaster doubled, Mary Beth Burton singled and Demi Sands had an RBI double.
But Ironton could not get another hit as Westfall held on for the win.
McMaster was 2-3 with a double, a home run and two runs batted in, Carmon 2-4 with two RBI, Hamlet 2-4, and Cremeens 2-3 with a double.
Paholsky was 1-4 and had two RBI, Sands 1-4 with a double and an RBI, Rowe 1-4 with an RBI and Riley Schreck was 1-1.
Fullen went 2-4 with six RBI and Minor was 4-4 with a double and two RBI to lead the Lady Mustangs.
Westfall (23-6) will play Minford at 1 p.m. Saturday in the district finals.
Ironton       204    110    1    =    9    12    2
Westfall    040    305    x    =    12    11    3
Mary Beth Burton, Peighton Rowe (5) and Kenzie Cremeens. Becca Brown, Emily Robinson (4) and Makayla Terry. W-Robinson (IP-4.0, H-7, R-3, ER-3, K-3, BB-1). Brown (IP-3.0, H-5, R-6, ER-5, K-3, BB-1). L-Rowe (IP-2.0, H-3, R-5, ER-4). Burton (IP4.0, H-8, R-7, ER-5, K-2, BB-2). Hitting-Ironton: Kenzie Cremeens 2-3 2B, Taiya Hamlet 2-4, Aley Carmon 2-4 2-RBI, Ruth Paholsky 1-4 2-RBI, M’Kenzie McMaster 2-3 HR 2B 2-RBI, Riley Schreck 1-1, Demi Sands 1-4 2B RBI, Peighton Rowe 1-4 RBI; Westfall: Becca Brown 1-4 2B RBI, Darby Minor 4-4 2B 2-RBI, Ayzia Fullen 2-4 GS 6-RBI, Makayla Terry 1-4 2B RBI, Josie Williams 1-3 2B, Marcy Dudgeon 2-3 2B RBI.