McDonald falls short in Div. IV title game


By DANTE CENTOFANTI

sports@vindy.com

BAZETTA TOWNSHIP

One day after the McDonald High School softball team stunned state-ranked Mathews, the Blue Devils came up short against Bristol.

Thursday at Candlelite Knolls, the Panthers edged the Blue Devils, 3-2, to win a Division IV district championship.

Bristol advances to the regional tournament that has been moved from Kent State University to Akron’s Firestone Stadium. On Thursday at 2 p.m., Bristol will play Hillsdale in the semifinals.

The Panthers (17-4), the district’s third seed, defeated second-seeded Brookfield, 8-1, to advance to the title game. McDonald bounced top-seeded Mathews, 2-1.

This game, a rematch of a district semifinal in 2017 won by McDonald, was tight.

Kayla Switzer drove in the winning run with a RBI double in the fourth inning, snapping a 2-2 tie.

Bristol coach Alisha Kugle praised her players for not getting down after mistakes.

“They make a couple mistakes and they put it behind them,” Kugler said. “They do a really good job of just erasing a last play if it’s a bad play and going on to the next thing and just making plays.”

McDonald finishes 11-4.

The Blue Devils took an early lead when Katie Donkers drove in a run with a groundout.

It didn’t last.

Kayla Switzer doubled to lead off the Panthers’ first at-bat. Kendyl Switzer followed with a two-run homer.

Later, the Blue Devils threatened when Megan Ward reached base with a checked-swing hit. But Panthers pitcher Alayna Sines escaped the jam with consecutive strikeouts.

Blue Devils pitcher Rachel Ward countered by stranding runners at third and first.

In the fourth inning, Ward singled to tie the game.

The Blue Devils threatened in the seventh inning. Back-to-back two-out hits by Cailey Titus and Ward had the tying run in scoring position.

But another clutch strikeout by Sines ended the game.

“I’m just so excited for them and they worked so hard and they deserve, so I’m just really pumped for them,” Kruger said.

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