A stuffy nose and a sore throat were not about to get in the way of Fairless sophomore Kelly Hysong on Wednesday at Firestone Stadium.
Hysong, Fairless’ ace pitcher and leadoff batter, wasn’t feeling her best against Canfield in a Division II regional semifinal. But it wasn’t reflected in her play.
Hysong led off the game with a triple and scored on an error. She then proceeded to strike out 11 over seven innings to lead the Falcons to a 6-2 win.
“This was definitely a big performance considering that Kelly has been sick and she certainly was not 100 percent,” Fairless coach Carrie Reynell said. “She certainly had to bear down and find something special to put on that performance. I knew we were dialed in and ready to have a game where we had a lot of hits. I am just really proud of the girls for being focused and getting those hits that we needed.”
Fairless mastered the one-run victory last week with district wins over Manchester (3-2 in seven innings) and Springfield (2-1 in 11 innings).
“My throat is a little sore and I got a pretty bad cough,” Hysong said. “I can’t breathe in real heavy. It makes running the bases a little rough, but you gotta do what you gotta do. You just take care of your body as much as you can and come out and play each day.”
Hysong said her arm was sore after pitching 11 innings against Springfield, but with stretching and ice she felt ready to go against Canfield (18-9).
Fairless (25-4) will play in a regional final at noon Saturday at Firestone Stadium against the winner of today’s regional semifinal between Walsh Jesuit and Geneva.
Hysong smacked the third pitch she saw from Canfield senior Abby Baker to right-center field. As Hysong reached third base for a triple, a throw by the Cardinals sailed out of play, allowing Hysong to score.
“Scoring the one run allowed me to take a deep breath,” Hysong said. “It was kind of like, ‘OK, we are in this and we got this.’ It gave the team momentum and coming out it did help with my pitching. As I strike more and more out, I could tell everyone getting up more and more.”
Hysong struck out eight of the first 10 batters she faced.
Junior Kylie Rose gave Fairless a 4-0 lead in the sixth with a pinch-hit, two-out double to right-center field that scored sophomore Rachael Childs, junior Jordan Tull and junior Jessica Kennedy. The Falcons loaded the bases with singles by Miller and Tull, and a walk to Kennedy.
“Kylie is a fantastic outside hitter,” Reynell said. “I knew [Baker] was trying to paint the outside a lot and I knew that Kylie has been really clutch for us lately. I knew she was going to come up big for us.”
It was Rose’s only at-bat.
“I was feeling pretty confident going into the at-bat and trying to stay calm,” Rose said. “That is pretty much the most important hit of my high school career. It was an outside pitch and I saw it coming off her hip. I just took my hands to the ball and followed through. It felt good coming off the bat.”
Canfield scored twice in the sixth. Fairless added two runs in the seventh when junior Robin Miller knocked in senior Mikayla Fowler and Tull singled in Childs. Junior center fielder Logan Bing ended the game with a diving catch.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.