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AURORA -- The Greenmen softball squad advanced to the Division I district semifinals last week with an 8-6 victory over Austintown Fitch.
The locals were scheduled to play Boardman on May 16, with the winner of that game advancing to the district finals today (May 17) at 4:30 p.m. against either Solon or Canfield.
Aurora led Austintown Fitch 6-1 after five innings on May 10, but the Falcons scored 5 runs in the top of the sixth inning to tie it 6-6.
The Greenmen then iced the game with 2 runs in the sixth. Although Fitch had two runners on base in the seventh, the Greenmen escaped without any more runs scoring for the victory.
Kelci Fleming started the game on the mound for the Greenmen, and was relieved in the sixth inning by Rachael Dudziak, who got credit for the win.
Julia Mazanec had 2 hits and 3 RBI, while Tayler Cassidy, Lauren Callahan, Hailey Bodine and Rachael Dudziak each had a hit. Cassidy, Callahan and Megan Maull each had an RBI..
Meanwhile, the Greenmen suffered a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to Tallmadge earlier last week on the road.
The Blue Devils, who won the Suburban League American Conference title with an 11-1 record, scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to win it.
Tallmadge (18-4) took advantage of a walk and an error in the inning and got a two-out, walk-off run-scoring single from Emily Pratt, a right-hander who also got the win in the pitcher's circle.
"It happens," Aurora head coach Lizzy D'Amato said. "We're a young squad and we're still progressing. The fact that we've done this well, even though we are a young team, is pretty awesome."
D'Amato isn't exaggerating about her team's youth. The Greenmen had four freshmen and one sophomore in the starting lineup against the Blue Devils.
For a while, the youngsters of Aurora gave Tallmadge all it could handle with patience at the plate, timely hitting and stellar defense. Unfortunately, things unraveled a bit in the bottom of the seventh.
Catcher Jordyn Severns got things started in the seventh for the Blue Devils with a leadoff walk, and moved to second base on a wild pitch.
After Aurora's Fleming got the next batter to fly out, left fielder Gia Spitali reached on an infield throwing error, which allowed Severns to score and Spitali to move to second.
Fleming got the next batter to ground out to third, but Pratt, who was hitless in her previous three at bats, ended the game with a hard chopper past second base to drive in the winning run.
"We tend to beat ourselves up because we set the bar so high," D'Amato said. "We can always improve. We don't like to settle."
Pratt, who improved to 10-2 in the pitcher's circle, pitched all seven innings. She finished with five strikeouts and despite having a handful of full counts early in the game, did not walk a batter.
Fleming took the loss despite pitching all seven innings. She finished with five strikeouts and three walks. She also hit a batter.
The Greenmen struck first in the top of the third. Junior second baseman Bodine and Fleming got things started with back-to-back one-out singles.
The next batter -- freshman shortstop Cassidy -- hit a shallow fly ball to center that looked like it was going to drop. But Blue Devils' centerfielder Autumn Malicoat sprinted full speed to make the catch at her ankles.
Tallmadge nearly got Bodine at the plate, but she just beat the throw and the run counted despite protests from the Blue Devils' coaching staff that she left third too early. Fleming eventually scored the second run on a wild pitch.
Tallmadge came right back in the bottom of the third. Designated player Madison Rearick led off the inning with a bunt single, but it looked like Fleming was going to escape any damage when she struck out the next two batters.
However, Spitali drew a walk and shortstop Alyssa Garbinsky followed with a two-run single to center to tie the game. The latter added another two-out, run-scoring single to score first baseman Olivia Carey, who reached base on a double toward deep left, to give the Blue Devils a 3-2 lead.
Like the Blue Devils, Aurora did its damage with two outs in the sixth and seventh. Freshman catcher Aleese Angelo drove in the tying run in the sixth with a hard chopper past third base for a single. The hit scored sophomore third baseman Mazanec, who reached on an infield error.
In the seventh, senior first baseman Maddy Bizjak led off the inning with a single to center. She was replaced by pinch runner freshman Dylynn Lasky, who scored on Fleming's two-out bloop single to left.
The Greenmen had six hits and one error.