The Chargers took advantage of two walks, two wild pitches and a squeeze bunt play with two outs to score three runs. Then, they let senior ace pitcher Erica Reber do the rest of the work.
Reber struck out eight, allowed just four hits and kept second-ranked Cardington-Lincoln at bay consistently as Edison defeated the Pirates, 4-0, to advance to the regional final for the second year in a row.
"When we have a pitcher like Erica, three runs is a lot," Edison coach Troy Keegan said. "Three runs is a string of hits together and nobody has done that all year. She's won our last two tournament games 1-0. Giving us three runs gives us the chance to play small ball."
The sixth-ranked Chargers advance to play ninth-ranked Archbold (19-5) at noon on Saturday, back at Bellefontaine.
"That was huge because the last couple games have been 1-0," Reber said of the three early runs. "One run — it's not stressful because my defense is good behind me, but getting three runs made me relax in the circle. It let me do my thing."
Lauren Wolf walked to lead off the top of the first before Hailey Stoll was jammed on a short pop up.
The ball took major backspin and was unable to be handled properly as Stoll reached. After a popout, Jessica Stoll walked to load the bases and create an immediate threat for Edison.
With Peyton Michel at the plate, a pitch from Pirates' pitcher Savannah Chalfant sailed high and off the catcher's mitt, as Wolf raced home for a 1-0 lead.
Michel struck out for the second out of the inning, but a pitch to No. 6 hitter Mariah Medina, who was attempting to lay down a bunt, also went high and back to the fence.
Hailey Stoll scampered home to tally another run. The Chargers weren't done though, as Medina got the bunt down and closely beat out the throw to first as Jessica Stoll touched home for a 3-0 lead.
"That's a fast runner we have there. Most other teams will look home first and then try to go to first base," said Keegan. "You can't do that with the speed we have. It was a gamble. We had to gamble because we faced a great pitcher today. We knew we weren't going to get a lot of hits. We had to keep the pressure on them somehow."
That was more than enough support for Reber (21-1). Dakota Crum singled down the left field line and Brooklyn Whit walked for Cardington-Lincoln in the first inning, but Reber struck out Rylie Partlow to end the inning. Reber allowed a two-out single in the second inning, but struck out the side to keep her team in command.
"Honestly, we knew they had a great pitcher that wanted to keep us off balance," Cardington-Lincoln coach Tod Brininger said. "We worked on what we thought she'd throw. Offensively, we just could never get anything going."
The Chargers looked in prime position to add another run in the third inning.
Lindsey Fortuna's jammed popup fell just in front of Chalfant, who then hurried her throw to first. It, like the two wild pitches in the first inning, sailed high and past Paige Clinger in right field, who was backing the throw up.
Fortuna reached third base before being lifted for pinch runner Molly Houser. With no outs, Jessica Stoll laid down a squeeze bunt attempt, but Chalfant threw home to get Houser out by two steps.
"We blew a squeeze play, but we wanted to keep the pressure on," Keegan said. "We played great defense and that's been our success all year."
Meanwhile, Reber kept mowing batters down in a steady pace for the Chargers.
She allowed a one-out double to Partlow in the fourth inning, but two easy groundouts got Edison out of the inning with no damage.
Alyson Adams singled in the sixth inning, but Michel fired Adams out at second base as she attempted to stretch the hit into a double.
"I felt better and better as the game went on because we had that lead early on," said Reber, who has not allowed a run in four tournament games (28 innings). "My defense is amazing. They make little-to-no errors and that's been the whole entire season. It's fantastic and I can't praise them enough."
Edison added an insurance run in the seventh inning.
Reber was hit by a pitch and lifted for pinch runner Olivia Blatnik.
After a popout and strikeout, Wolf stroked a single to right field, allowing Blatnik to get to third. A base hit just over the first baseman's head by Hailey Stoll stretched the Edison lead to 4-0.
"Erica is focused. She's dominant and she's on a mission," said Keegan. "I couldn't ask for anything else out of her. I wouldn't trade her for anything out there."
Reber got a pair of strikeouts looking and a groundout to end the game. She allowed four hits while throwing 108 pitches — 72 of them for strikes.
"We have great leadership on this team," said Keegan. "They have had some success last year reaching the regional final too. Some of the girls have been there. We're doing what we can with the experience we have, and using the speed of the younger kids. There's a reason we carry 17 people."
Edison will face Archbold, a school they beat 10-2 in the 2012 regional final when Reber and her classmates were in eighth grade.
"There's not many words to describe being one of the last eight teams in the division," Reber said. "I just love my team behind me and we just get along so well."
Edison 300 000 1 — 4 3 0
Cardington-Lincoln 000 000 0 — 0 4 2
WP: Reber; LP: Chalfant
2B: Partlow (CL)