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Higher seed doesn’t benefit Columbiana

Columbiana’s Tori Long pitches against Rootstown on Thursday in a Div. III sectional final. (Photo by Anthony Fiuza)

COLUMBIANA — Fourth-seeded Columbiana faced a pitcher it had not seen before in Shelbie Krieger and ninth-seeded Rootstown took advantage for a 3-1 win in the Division III sectional championship on Thursday at Firestone Park.

Columbiana was known as a team that could score runs at a high rate. Over its last three games, the Clippers scored a combined 37 runs.

Krieger brought a different kind of style to the proceedings.

“She definitely spotted the ball. She had good movement and that’s not really a pitcher we’ve seen all year. So, props to her. She pitched great,” Long said about her counterpart.

“I know she plays travel (ball), so she has the reps. She has the extra practice. Rather than someone that just plays high school. I think (when it came to) the seeding we might have overlooked. We were a higher seed and that’s unacceptable.”

Krieger danced out of trouble in the first inning as she struck out back-to-back Clippers with the bases loaded and one out, which preserved an early 2-0 lead for the Rovers. Columbiana had only one hit after the first frame.

Rootstown (16-6) got two of their runs courtesy of a two-run blast by Karlie Duvall in the first inning. Abby White also went 3 for 3 had an RBI single for the Rovers in the third.

“Coming out I knew that they were all good hitters. I knew that a lot of them played travel (ball). I knew if I didn’t spot the ball I was going to give up home runs like that. I missed my spot and I paid for it,” Long said.

Columbiana has a mark of 14-4 and was the co-champion of the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference. Long added her team needs to be ready to play next season.

“It was low energy the whole game and when you have high energy that definitely helps the batters. So, I think going forward we all need to know that we all need to come out and play and be prepared,” Long said.

The Clippers did strike out five straight times against Krieger, who pitched a complete game, surrendered just two hits, one unearned run, four walks, and struck out 11 Columbiana hitters.

According to Clippers head coach Madison Kurtz, her team has faced deficits before, but it wasn’t tapping into that plate discipline they were accustomed to.

“We’ve been in games before where teams had been up on us 6-0. We’ve been able to battle back, but today just wasn’t our day to battle back,” Columbiana head coach Madison Kurtz said.

“It looked like to me they were just chasing way too many pitches, pitches that they don’t normally swing at. And we’ve seen them this season lay off those kind of pitches and I think they were just ancy tonight.”

Rootstown will move on to face No. 8 seed Newton Falls at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Youngstown State University.

R: 2-0-1-0-0-0-0 — 3-7-3

C: 0-0-1-0-0-0-0 — 1-2-1

R — Shelbie Krieger, wp (7IP, 2H, R, 0ER, 11K, 4BB) and Natalie Hammerschmidt.

C — Tori Long, lp (7IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, 14K, 2BB) and Audrey Smith.

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