Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
ATHENS — Just before the biggest at-bat of Tuesday’s Division II district semifinal, Waverly’s Zoiee Smith asked coach Scott Hayes if he wanted her to bunt.
Hayes told the sophomore lefty that if the third baseman was playing even with the bag, to go ahead and see what she could make happen.
Smith didn’t bunt, but she certainly made something happen.
In a 1-1 ballgame in the bottom of the eighth inning, and with the winning run standing on second base, Smith drove the first pitch she saw to dead, straight away center field.
The ball found green grass, Smith found a walk-off hit and the Tigers found themselves 2-1 winners over Logan Elm in dramatic fashion.
“Before I knew it, I was thinking about the bunt and [Logan Elm pitcher Avree Entler] was pitching,” Smith said. “I don’t entirely remember but I thought the center fielder had it. I thought she had it right in her glove. When it went over her …. that’s just a huge win.”
Smith’s walk-off RBI double wouldn’t have been possible had she not tied the game in the bottom of the sixth with her first hit of the night. After Kenzie Penrod doubled to start the inning, pinch runner Shawna Liming moved to third on a sacrifice bunt via Maddy Collett.
That set the stage for Smith, who finally put the Tigers (20-5) on the scoreboard.
“I saw the infield was in and was like, ‘OK I have to hit now.’ So I hit a blooper right over the top of second base and it went through the gap,” Smith said.
The Braves (15-13) got on the board in their first-at bat. But with a mix of twins Hannah and Hailey Robinson in the circle, Logan Elm looked lost from that point forward. While the Braves did put runners on base at crucial times, they couldn’t cash in on any opportunities.
Hannah Robinson pitched four innings and allowed the run while striking out five. Hailey Robinson came on in relief, throwing four innings, surrendering one hit and whiffing seven.
“I feel like I struggled at first coming in but I got into my groove and started to figure things out,” Robinson said. “I just took a deep breath and thought, ‘We got this. We’re going to be fine.’ My defense played well behind me like they usually do. That helps a lot.”
At the plate, Smith was 2-for-4 with two RBIs while Hannah Robinson, Suzzy Wally and Kenzie Penrod were all 1-for-3. Penrod and Liming accounted for both of the Tigers’ runs.
Entler still pitched a gem for Logan Elm, tossing 7 ⅔ innings of four-hit softball alongside five strikeouts. As a team, the Braves pounded out just four hits.
“Tonight is a huge team win for us. We played really well on the defensive end, our pitching was clutch … everything was clutch,” Smith said.
The Tigers advance to play Sheridan in a Division II district final at 6 p.m., Wednesday at Ohio University. The Generals were a 2-1 winner over Unioto Tuesday evening thanks to a walk-off home run from pitcher Sydney Campolo.
“We have to get some sleep because we get Fairfield Union [Wednesday],” Smith said. “They’re undefeated. They’re for real. We have to bring the same energy and same enthusiasm into tomorrow.”