Minster High School’s first state softball tournament game was something else.
The Wildcats are hoping there’s a little more orange-and-black magic in the air today when they go after the Division IV championship.
“It makes us believe that we can do anything,” senior pitcher Kayla Richard said Friday after Minster pulled off a stirring comeback and defeated Bainbridge Paint Valley 4-3 in a 10-inning semifinal at Firestone Stadium.
Marissa Conrad doubled, tripled, homered, drove in two runs and scored the winning run for the Wildcats (27-3), who will face Cuyahoga Heights (22-3) in today’s 4 p.m. state final.
Minster overcame four errors and a 3-0 deficit against freshman hurler Mikayla Newland, who pitched an eight-hitter with 14 strikeouts for Paint Valley (22-9).
It was 3-1 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning when Richard singled and went to second on an errant throw. Rachel Heckaman followed with an RBI infield single and Conrad blasted a triple to the fence in right-center field to tie the game.
“Before that, we had one of our girls strike out, and she was just crying. She said, ‘I didn’t want to end my season that way,’ ” Conrad said. “So I’m just thinking, we can’t end it like this.”
Conrad smoked a leadoff double in the bottom of the 10th. Michaela Goettemoeller struck out and Alexis Robinson, 0-for-4 with four strikeouts at that point, moved Conrad to third with a sacrifice bunt.
Regan Hahn then slapped a ground ball to Bearcats shortstop Laci Stanforth. Instead of throwing to first base for the third out, she made a wild throw to the plate as Conrad scored.
“I honestly had no idea what was happening. I was just trying to run as fast as I could,” Hahn said. “I needed to have everyone’s back and do whatever I could.”
Conrad didn’t wait for Minster coach Scott Robinson to tell her to run.
“Once it passed the pitcher, I was going to go,” Conrad said. “I crossed home plate and didn’t know what happened. They all just came running at me.”
Paint Valley coach Chris Medved praised the Wildcats’ offensive prowess and could only shake his head about the ending.
“I had just told them there’s two outs and your play’s at one,” Medved said. “She just lost the count of how many outs there were. She looks up and sees the girl going home and tries to make a play.”
Richard threw a 10-hitter with 10 strikeouts. She allowed one earned run.
MHS got a spectacular running catch from center fielder Sara Hosey in the 10th — she robbed Newland by grabbing the ball and crashing into the temporary fence in left-center. But the Wildcats’ four errors were way too many for Robinson.
“To still have the belief in each other to come back and win, it is huge,” he said.