In the middle of a pitchers’ duel, Oak Hills coach Jackie Cornelius-Bedel picked the right time to take a chance.
After reaching on an error, senior Devan Colebank was standing on second base with two outs in the top of the sixth inning. At the plate, senior Lauren Slatten hit a routine grounder to the shortstop, but the ball was bobbled by Lakota East junior Kadey Astrop.“It was going to be whatever team made a tiny mistake that was going to determine who was going to win this game because there were two great pitchers going head-to-head,” Cornelius-Bedel said.
After mishandling the grounder, Astrop tossed the ball from her knees to junior first baseman Taylor Fair and Slatten beat the throw in a play that wasn’t close.
Meanwhile, Colebank raced home to score without the ball ever leaving the infield.
“With Devan you can’t make a mistake or pause with the ball because she is so fast,” Cornelius-Bedel said. “Anybody else, we wouldn’t have been able to do that, but Devan we could. She is lightning.”
For the Highlanders, who are No. 3 in The Cincinnati Enquirer Division I coaches’ poll, it was their second 1-0 win against No. 5 Lakota East this month. Prior to the season, Oak Hills had been swept by the Thunderhawks seven consecutive years – losing 14 straight.
A big reason for the turnaround has been the play of Slatten, who struck out nine in her sixth shutout of the season. With her latest gem, her season strikeout total increased to 192 in 101 innings of work. Slatten also improved her record to 13-3.
“Oak Hills has really good pitching and that makes a lot of other things come together,” Lakota East coach Steve Castner said. “That has been the difference in their team the past two years, really good pitching.
“(Slatten) did very well, but I think our pitcher did just as well.”
Lakota East did receive a strong performance from senior Lea Buckenmyer, who allowed only two hits and walked none.
But it came down to back-to-back errors that unjustly gave Buckenmyer the loss.
“That is the way it is when you put two good pitchers against each other with pretty good defenses. If someone makes a mistake or strings a couple of hits together, that makes all the difference,” Castner said.
W–Slatten (13-2, 9 K’s), L–Buckenmyer (8-4). Leaders: O–Slatten RBI. Records: Oak Hills 13-3, 10-1 in GMC; Lakota East 12-5, 6-4.
PHOTO GALLERY MAY NOT APPEAR ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICE