ASHTON – Once bunting turned into bashing, there was no stopping the Amboy softball team.
The Clippers started slow, but turned up the heat on their way to a 10-0, five-inning victory against Indian Creek on Tuesday in a Class 1A AFC Regional semifinal.
Amboy (15-7) will take on either AFC or Newman in the title game on Saturday. The Raiders and Comets square off today.
The key inning was the third, in which Amboy scored four times. One-out bunt singles by Lauren Akre, Madeline Ely and Kelsie Thurman set the table for the meat of the order, and it delivered.
No. 3 hitter Micaela McCoy smashed a hard single to left that skipped past outfielder Sarah Dempsay, allowing Akre and Ely to score. Cassey Doege followed with a two-run single. The rout was on.
After the first eight trips to the plate produced only a base hit from McCoy, Amboy coach Kelly Whitman decided to mix it up. Instead of swinging away, the Clippers tested what turned out to be a shaky Indian Creek infield.
“Their first baseman wasn’t even coming up to cover, so the instruction was to go down the first-base line,” Whitman said.
“I also noticed the third baseman was starting behind the base. Even if she gets a good jump, we have a pretty good chance of making it to first.”
Amboy scored three runs in the fourth inning to increase its lead to 7-0. A throwing error by Indian Creek (5-16) catcher Kayla Kauffman allowed the first run to score. Akre drove in another run on a well-placed bunt, and McCoy added an RBI single.
The Clippers finished off the game with three runs in the fifth. Destinee Oenes had an RBI single, Ely had a sacrifice fly, and the clinching run, scored by Kaitlyn Appleman, was on a wild pitch.
McCoy went 3-for-3 with two RBIs to pace the Amboy offense. Ely, Thurman, Doege and Akre each had two hits, and the Clippers pounded out 14 as a team.
“Once we go through the order one time, we just get our bats going,” McCoy said. “We play a little small-ball to make ourselves feel comfortable, and then we put it in gear.”
Akre (11-6) sailed through five innings in the circle. She allowed just one hit, a one-out single by Khloe Gordon in the third inning, and she was promptly picked off first by Amboy catcher Kaitlyn Liebing. Akre struck out eight batters and walked two.
Star of the game: Lauren Akre, Amboy, 5 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 8 SO, 2 BB
Key performers: Micaela McCoy, Amboy, 3-for-3, 2 RBI, 1 R; Cassey Doege, Amboy, 2-for-3, 2 RBI
Up next: Championship game, Amboy vs. AFC or Newman, 11 a.m. Saturday