Mason wins regional semifinal

Posted at 8:49 PM, May 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 21:25:53-04

CENTERVILLE, Ohio – Mason senior Erin Rockstroh stood near the home dugout with her helmet still on and a smile that wasn’t going away.

The third baseman was in a state of disbelief over what occurred just moments before.

Rockstroh’s two-out RBI single past the second baseman in the bottom of the seventh inning helped Mason defeat Clayton Northmont 3-2 in a Division I regional semifinal Wednesday night at Centerville.

“Honestly, it hasn’t soaked in yet,” Rockstroh said. “I feel like it hasn’t happened, but I feel pretty good about that.”

Mason (25-2) advances to play Lakota East or Lakota West in an all-Greater Miami Conference regional final at noon Saturday at Centerville. East plays West in the other regional semifinal at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Rockstroh, a Cornell signee, stepped to the plate with runners at first and third and two out in the seventh. She worked the count to 2-0 and found her opportunity.

Her coaches and teammates never doubted her ability. Rockstroh knew it was her time to shine.

“Basically I was just thinking this is what I am here for and this is what I love to do,” Rockstroh said. “The only thing I was thinking was to win it for my team.”

Rockstroh’s right wrist had a marking to remind the Mason players to play for each other.

Mason coach Liann Muff said Rockstroh has been a good teammate all spring and stepped up in the best possible moment.

“She’s just a winner,” Muff said. “And she is a big-time gamer, and she had her opportunity and she produced. I couldn’t be more proud and happy for her.”

Mason found itself in an early 2-0 deficit in the top of the first inning on a two-out two-run home run by senior pitcher Whitney Fiedler.

But, the Comets had a short memory, and the energy level never wavered in the dugout.

“They just believed they just needed to win an inning at a time,” Muff said. “They knew they could do it. They just needed to execute.”

The Comets played solid defense and kept Northmont to the two unearned runs it scored.

In the third inning, sophomore outfielder Olivia Popovich caught a fly to center and threw out a runner at the plate for the Comets to escape a bases loaded jam.

In the bottom of the fourth, senior Olivia Hopkins’ bunt single scored courtesy runner Taylor Heitfeld after Elana Harrison drew a one-out walk.

In the seventh, junior Brooke Rice (1 for 2 with a double) drew a walk after a full count. Freshman Ali Weekley had a one-out single to left to make it first and second. The runners moved up after the second out and set up the opportunity for Rockstroh.

Rockstroh’s single through the right side scored Abbey Mullins from third and Weekley from second. Muff never hesitated to send Weekley.

Junior pitcher Elle Buffenbarger improved to 21-2 this season. Mason, in its ninth regional tournament, has an opportunity for the program’s fifth regional title Saturday.

“I felt they had the momentum the entire game,” Muff said. “I think they all believed in one another. This team has great chemistry. They really want the best for each other.”