LIMA — Lima Central Catholic’s Meredith Shepherd tends to be impressive when she takes the circle or steps into the batter’s box.
But after Tuesday’s game, she seemed more impressed by her teammates after they took down visiting Coldwater 5-2 in a Division III sectional semifinal at Faurot Park. LCC (10-11) will take on second-seeded host Ottawa-Glandorf at 5 p.m. Friday in the sectional finals.
“We came out ready to play,” Shepherd said. “Right off the bat, we were hitting. We played well defensively as a team and everyone contributed. Everyone was doing everything they could to make plays and that helps a lot.
“It’s a different feel once the tournament starts. We went to district semifinals last year, which is big for our program. Tonight everyone knew we wouldn’t be advancing if we lost, and I know we all want to advance like we did last year.”
Shepherd got a complete-game victory, allowing five hits, three walks and two runs. The defense behind her was especially locked-in, with just one late error that was overshadowed by several nice plays on the infield and some big catches in the outfield. And on offense, LCC finished with 10 hits and every batter reached base at least once.
“Very, very sharp. Very impressive,” LCC coach Kevin Wilkerson said. “Our kids did a great job fielding, throwing and moving at all times when the ball was in the air. Tonight our girls played their ‘A’ game.”
Sydney Santaguida got the Thunderbirds going in the first, walking, stealing second and scoring when Shepherd bashed a hit to right field. LCC put up two more in the second when Lexi Moore scored on Abby Tabler’s single. Tabler later scored on Santaguida’s single.
In the fourth, Santaguida doubled in Gabby O’Dowd, who singled twice, with a double and Tabler scored on a bases-loaded walk to Meredith Niese.
“We’ve struggled some offensively this year but we were focused tonight,” Shepherd said. “We faced a lot of good pitchers and good hitting teams and that helped us prepare.”
Coldwater did come alive in the second half of the game. The Cavaliers (9-15) scored twice in the fifth off three hits. Ashley Backs, who singled twice, scored on Angie Klosterman’s sacrifice fly and Karla Borgerding scored on Kelsey Koesters’ single.
Coldwater then put a runner on second base in the sixth and Borgerding tripled with an out in the seventh. But neither came home to score.
“I’m proud of my girls, they never let up, not once,” Coldwater coach Ken Fisher said. “(LCC) came out and played a very good game. They got hits, did a nice job putting the ball in play. Defensively, they played a very good game and Meredith did a nice job on mound, she hit her spots. They just played a nice game.”