CALIFORNIA — Under head coach Sharon Buschjost, Blair Oaks has been no stranger to being the top seed in district tournaments.
On Thursday against Russellville, the Lady Falcons looked more than comfortable in that familiar role, dispatching the Indians 15-0 by run-rule to open play in the Class 2 District 10 Tournament.
"We came out the way I wanted to see them come out," Buschjost said. "We talked about what being the No. 1 seed means and playing like a No. 1 seed and I think that's what we did tonight."
Blair Oaks (18-8) set the tone on its third batter of the game when Sydney Wilde clubbed a solo home run to open the game's scoring.
The Falcons put the game away early with a monster second inning that saw 13 runs cross the plate. After Brooke Boessen led off the frame with a solo shot, the next six Blair Oaks hitters all reached safely, culminating with a bases-clearing double by Wilde that officially blew the game open before the Indians could record a second-inning out.
Seventeen hitters stepped to the plate for the Lady Falcons in the inning as Blair Oaks showcased the deep and balanced lineup that has given opposing pitchers so much trouble.
"As a coach, to look at the lineup 1 through 9 and know that you're going to get contributions at each one of those hitting spots, it's a bonus," Buschjost said. "It's a plus to have that because I feel as confident with the No. 9 hitter as I do with the Nos. 1 or 2 hitters.
"We don't drop off in the batting order. We just continue to put pressure on."
After a scoreless third, Blair Oaks ended things in the bottom of the fourth inning, fittingly on a Wilde RBI single. The junior finished the game 4-for-4 with a bases-clearing double, a home run and six RBI.
All the run support allowed Megan Mitchem to have a relaxed outing on the mound. The senior had two strikeouts against just two hits and a walk allowed in her four scoreless innings.
For Russellville (9-15), Sidney Merhoff pitched all four innings in the loss. Following the two early home runs, Merhoff mostly kept the ball down, but the Indians' infield struggled with the overall team speed of Blair Oaks.
Emilee Jones had two hits and an RBI, Carli Buschjost had two hits and three RBI, Mackinnley Hamacher had two hits and an RBI and Nicole Bryan had an RBI.
Russellville's best chance to get on the board came in the top of the second inning with the game still in the balance. Trailing 1-0, the Indians got a one-out double from Hannah Mueller. Though Mueller advanced to third on a stolen base, a popped up bunt attempt and a groundout prevented her from scoring.
Russellville's other hit was a single by Merhoff in the third.
As they go for yet another district title, the Lady Falcons know the games will only get tougher. Blair Oaks will face New Bloomfield at 1 p.m. Saturday for the district championship.
"We're going to have to continue playing just as we did tonight and understand that the runs may be tougher to come by," Buschjost said. "It's just about taking care of all the little things that make up a softball game."