WADSWORTH: Wadsworth didn’t make many mistakes on Wednesday, but Cloverleaf took advantage of one error and downed the favorite Grizzlies 3-2 in a Division I softball sectional final at Wadsworth’s Weatherstone Park.
Unseeded Cloverleaf (13-14) only mustered four hits against No. 3 seeded Wadsworth (17-9) and freshman pitcher Grace Zarley. In the third inning, the Colts didn’t allow Zarley (seven innings pitched, no earned runs) to get out unscathed, capitalizing when the Grizzlies defense blinked.
With two outs, sophomore Hallee Smith and senior Sam Allen each singled for the Colts’ first two hits of the game. Senior Lauren Strebel followed with a high, deep drive to right field that came in line with the sun and some wind, making for a difficult play while backpedaling but an error nonetheless. The catch wasn’t made and the ball trickled away, allowing all three runners to score.
“I thought the girls stepped up to make something out of nothing there,” Cloverleaf coach John Carmigiano said of extending the inning. “Our girls have been battling adversity all year and so that was a great spot for them to come through. … All the plays were tough today with the wind. That’s what we were trying to tell our girls, that anything can happen on any play, so make sure you’re running everything out.”
Cloverleaf sophomore Kelsen Lewarchick took the hill and limited Wadsworth’s lineup to two earned runs over five innings. Junior Samantha Ryan drove in a run with a single to left field in the bottom of the third inning to make it 3-1.
The Grizzlies had a scoring threat in the bottom of the sixth but might have run themselves out of a bigger inning. Ryan was hit by a pitch to open the inning and advanced to third on senior Nicole Weaver’s single to right field, with no outs. Lewarchick was replaced on the mound by junior Sierra Pickett.
Still with no outs and a two-run deficit, Weaver tried to steal second base but was beaten on the throw by Cloverleaf sophomore catcher Tori Meece. Weaver turned back and got herself into a pickle, which allowed the second run to score but also cleared the bases without tying the game. The next batter, Zarley, reached on an error but the Colts were out of the inning a few pitches later after junior Kelsie Wenger lined a shot back to Pickett, who doubled up Zarley at first.
“We did all that we could,” Wadsworth coach Michelle DeAngelis said. “We got beat by a good team. What we have to do is to take today’s loss as motivation to get better for next year.”
On paper and by their respective records, this was a road upset between Suburban League foes. But not everybody sees it that way.
“It’s no disrespect to them as a team because I have great respect for their players and coach and I think they’re a great team, but different teams match up better with other teams,” Carmigiano said. “So we didn’t feel like we were the underdogs today, which took some of the pressure off us.”
This is the Colts’ second trip to the district tournament in as many years, a stark contrast to the previous two decades. None of the girls playing in Wednesday’s game was alive the last time it happened before 2012.
“We came out wanting to make sure that for our program, we’d give it our best shot to get back to districts,” Carmigiano said. “This will be our second year in a row. We hadn’t been there since the early ’90s, so this is a good thing for us.”
Cloverleaf will face Brunswick in the district semifinal on Tuesday at Barberton High School.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.