RICHMOND - The dream became a reality for Abby Taylor.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Taylor ripped a single to short scoring Casey Gentile with the game-winning run to lift the Steubenville softball team to a 5-4 victory against Beaver Local in an Ohio Division II Eastern District Sectional Quarterfinal on Monday at Jefferson Lake State Park.
"I knew I had to hit the ball," Taylor said. "I wanted to hit it hard and put it in play."
With the victory, Big Red (12-14) has advanced to take on Indian Creek in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Taylor's base hit capped Big Red's two-run rally in the seventh inning.
"I felt relieved," Taylor said. "I felt so relieved."
In the seventh, Mytia Barker and Gentile drew back-to-back walks to start the inning. Barker advanced to third base on two wild pitches, the second of which moved Gentile into scoring position at second. After a strikeout and a popup Big Red was down to its final out, but Lauren Gray was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Next, Brittany Bodo collected an infield single down the third0base line scoring Barker to tie it 4-4. Then, Taylor stepped to the plate and belted the ball past the Beavers' shortstop to win the game.
"She has been on a tear," first-year Big Red coach Gus DiMarzio said. "I'm guessing, but she is something like 11-for-15 in our last few games. Her mom was a Division-I softball player and her dad is Jamie Taylor, who is a legend in the Ohio Valley. He was a great player. He played in the Indians organization for a number of years, but I'll take Abby. I'll take her."
Anna Perrino picked up a victory for Big Red, recording eight strikeouts and three walks. She allowed four runs on seven hits.
Beaver Local outhit Big Red, 7-6, but Steubenville delivered the two-biggest hits of the game.
Individually, Christina Archer recorded two singles and two RBI, and Tenia Barker and Gentile each tallied base hits. Though she did not produce a hit, Mytia Barker reached base four times, including walking three times.
Maranda Kiddey took the loss for the Beavers. Kiddey struck out five and walked six. Kiddey was hurt by her team's defense as Beaver Local made five errors in the game resulting in three unearned runs. Big Red's only two earned runs came in the seventh.
Offensively, the Beavers relied on the long ball for their offense. Three of Beaver Local's seven hits went for extra bases, including two that sailed over the fence for home runs.
Individually, Kiddey helped her own cause with a single and a solo home run, Ashley Riley belted a three-run home run and Jackie Davis delivered a double. Also, Laine Frampton, Erika Witherow and Bobbie Ann Theiss all collected base hits.
"I am proud of the girls," DiMarzio said. "Anytime you when a sectional game, you are happy. But to win a sectional game like that where you have to battle until the end says a lot about our girls and our program. Our program is moving in the right direction."