Kirby’s walk-off homer in ninth inning gives Miami East softball 5-3 win over Waynesville

VERSAILLES — Father always knows best.

And Miami East softball coach Brian Kadel wasn’t the only one who knew having Kyleigh Kirby at the plate in the home ninth inning of a 3-3 game was a winner for the Vikings.

With the Vikings down to their last strike, Jacqueline Kadel delivered a game-tying single and Kirby followed with a walkoff two-run homer to give East a 5-3 win in a D-III district semifinal Monday at Versailles High School.

The Vikings, 19-4, play Clermont Northeast at 5 p.m. Thursday at Lebanon High School in the district championship game.

Clermont Northeastern beat Bethel-Tate 3-2 in nine innings Monday. Waynesville drops to 18-8.

The Vikings were trailing 3-2 in the home ninth inning with two outs — with Meg Gilliand at second base when Kadel came to the plate.

“She had flashed me the sign that she wanted me to have her bunt,” Brian Kadel said. “She is a good bunter and I know she was thinking that would put two runners on for Kyleigh (Kirby). But, not in that situation. Jacqueline (Kadel) has been a good contact hitter all year.”

Down 1-2 in the count, the freshman drilled a single and Gilliand raced home to tie the game.

“It was probably a sense of relief,” Jacqueline Kadel said with a smile. “I knew I had to get a hit. I knew we had a great hitter (Kyleigh Kirby) coming up.”

Kirby was 0-for-4 in the game up to that point, but this at bat would be very different.

“Kyleigh (Kirby) had a tough day at the plate up to that point,” Brian Kadel said. “But, she had a different look this time. I knew she was ready and I never doubt Kyleigh.”

Kirby got down 0-2 in the count, before smashing her 12th home run of the season over fence in left-center field, setting off a Viking celebration.

“I knew it was out when I hit it,” Kirby said. “And I never think that. But, this time I just knew. It just felt good to help the win. It’s my senior year.”

Jacqueline Kadel — running on contact — knew something good had just happened.

“When I was running down to third base, I could see my dad (in the third base coaching box) was excited about something,” she said.

The game had been scoreless going to the fifth inning when both teams scored.

Waynesville got a base hit from Ava Hallows and Kylie Bailey doubled to the fence in centerfield.

Kalli Teeters relayed the ball in to Abigail Kadel and she fired a strike to catcher Braven Mills to cut down Hallows at the plate. Bailey took third on the throw and came in when the throw to third went in to the outfield to make it 1-0.

East erased the deficit quickly.

Kayly Fetters started the home fifth with a single and took second on an error.

On fielder’s choice by Abigail Kadel, the throw went to second and Fetters dived back in safely.

After a wild pitch put runners on second and third, Fetters scored on Kiera Kirby’s fielder’s choice and Gilliand singled in Kadel.

Waynesville tied it 2-2 in the sixth on a home run by Jenna Bulcher.

Miami East then missed opportunities to end the game in the seventh and eighth innings.

In the seventh, Gilliand was on third with one out after doubling when Hallows knocked down a hard grounder to third and recovered in time to throw Gilliand out at home.

In the eighth, Miami East had runners at first and second with no outs when a line drive led to the runner being doubled off second. It was the second time a Miami East runner was doubled off the base in the game.

“We had a perfect situation in the seventh and the girl just made a play,” Kadel said. “In the eighth, we just had a girl doubled off the base.”

Waynesville took the lead in the top of the ninth.

Hallows singled and Bailey doubled her in.

Kyleigh Kirby was able to get out of it without and more damage.

In the home ninth, Gilliand had her third hit of the game and moved to second on Teeter’s fielder’s choice, setting up the dramatic finish.

“Everyone knows Meg (Gilliand) is a slapper,” Brian Kadel said. “But, I told her at some point, she is going to have to swing the bat. We have been working with her and tonight was the night.”

Reagan Howell was 3-for-4 in the game and Kiera Kirby had two diving catches left field.

Kyleigh Kirby pitched an 11-hitter, striking out two and walking six.

Amanda Tudela pitched a 10-hitter for Waynesville, striking out two and walking one.

Hallows was 4-for-5 at the plate.

But, in the end it came down to “Father” knowing best and a Big Fly from Kyleigh Kirby.