BEACHWOOD—Freshman Ari Preston hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning as Beachwood erased a 7-0 deficit to beat visiting Chagrin Falls in a Division II sectional semifinal on Tuesday, 16-15.
Led by Preston’s homer, the Bison scored seven runs in the bottom of the sixth to take their first lead of the game.
“We chipped away at it,” said Beachwood coach Mike Coreno of the first-inning deficit. “Our schedule makes this possible for us. If you look at our games, we won when we were supposed to and we got beat when we were supposed to, but in those games, you learn and that helped us to plug away a little bit every inning. Defensively, we started making plays instead of errors. We had four errors in that first inning. We just didn’t come out with that focus, but little by little, we chipped away at it.”
Chagrin Falls took advantage of walks and miscues in the top of the first.
Caitlin Larkin and Camille Paoletta drew back-to-back walks and Courtney Myers was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Sara Hartle then singled home one run and the Tigers scored another on a fielder’s choice. Lexi Kaseler hit a one-out single and Michaela Plante reached on an error. Sophia Moffa followed with an RBI single and Larkin hit a two-out, two-run double to push Chagrin’s lead to 6-0. The Tigers added another run on an error.
The Bison responded with five runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Emily May led off the inning with a single and Preston was hit by a pitch. Shayna Preisler doubled home both runners and Emily Clar singled to cut Chagrin’s lead to 7-3. An error and a Nikki Reidenbach single led to two more runs.
The Tigers scored three runs on five hits in the second but again the Bison responded. The Bison scored two runs on a pair of doubles by Preston and Clar to pull to within 10-7.
Chagrin Falls put together another big inning in the top of the third.
Meyers led off with a walk and Hartle and Guddy hit back-to-back singles. Two errors sandwiched a Plante single and the Tigers added another run on a fielder’s choice to increase their lead to 14-7.
May singled to start the Beachwood fourth. Preston drew a walk and Nia Brown singled to load the bases with no outs. Preisler earned an RBI the easy way when she drew a bases-loaded walk and the Bison added another run on an error.
Chagrin Falls added a run in the top of the sixth when Guddy doubled and scored on a fielder’s choice, but the Bison took over from there.
A pair of walks and a Clar double cut Chagrin’s lead to 15-10 and two more runs scored on an error. Reidenbach then hit an RBI single and May hit a two-out single to set the stage for Preston’s game-winning home run.
“It was really fun and the dugout was really exciting,” Preston said of the Bison rally in the sixth. “I think we got into a better demeanor once we were down and started battling back.”
Preston hit the first pitch she saw over the fence in center field.
“That’s her first home run,” Coreno said. “Nia has been our big hitter. She’s got three home runs on the year and has most of the power stats. Ari has been our two-hole hitter. She’s an athlete and has a lot of skill. She made a diving play in the hole in the first inning. She’s a good softball player and only a freshman.”
Preston, with some help from her defense, then went out and retired the Tigers in order in the seventh to seal Beachwood’s postseason win.
“It was really never-wracking,” Preston said of the final inning. “I was really scared they were going to hit the ball. It was really good that we battled back. It was really fun.”
Guddy led the Tigers with four hits while Hartle finished with three. Plante, Moffa, and Madeline Rodriguez each knocked in three runs for Chagrin Falls.
May and Clar both had three hits for the Bison. Clar finished with a team-best four runs batted in.
Beachwood travels to Revere for Thursday’s sectional championship game.