TALLMADGE: Kirsten Lightel said she just wanted to stay calm and keep her head clear.
Lightel kept the Wadsworth offense calm and the bases almost completely clear, winning a pitchers’ duel 1-0 in a Suburban League softball game Tuesday afternoon at the Tallmadge Middle School field.
Lightel, a junior right-hander who is becoming the staff ace, was nearly matched pitch-for-pitch by Wadsworth freshman Grace Zarley as an unearned run in the third inning decided it.
Tallmadge (5-2, 5-0) remains atop the conference standings, despite some recent weather-related postponements that include a couple of suspended games.
“I just try to stay as calm as I can,” said Lightel. “All my pitches were on today, I think.”
The Wadsworth hitters would second that. Lightel (4-1) allowed just two hits — both singles — and struck out 12, all but one on swinging third strikes. Her lone walk occurred with one out in the seventh inning, before she retired the last two on a flyout and strikeout.
“My drop ball was pretty good today,” said Lightel, who said she threw her rise the majority of the time. “I was hitting my spots real well, too.”
Zarley (6-2) allowed just three hits and struck out six. She also walked only one batter on a very warm day, with wind gusts sometimes affecting pitches as well as fly balls.
But after Taylor Philips reached on a two-out error in the third, junior Sierra Bennett ripped a double into the gap in right-center and Philips beat the relay throw to the plate for a 1-0 lead.
An error and stolen base by Lexi Philen put runners on second and third, but Zarley induced a flyout to center to end the inning. That was the last real threat by either team.
“We got the key hit when we needed the hit,” Tallmadge coach Ed Seeker said. “We got the runner on first. It was like a hit-and-run when we scored our run, and she was able to get a good start on it and get around third.”
Seeker also had praise for the opposing Grizzlies (9-3, 4-2).
“They’re a good team,” he said. “They got a good pitcher. We’re playing well, but I don’t think we’re playing up to what we can be. I think we can play a lot better.”
Seeker said Lightel hung tough on a day when windy conditions made it challenging.
“She’s got good stamina,” he said. “I don’t know that she was tiring. Wind plays a little bit into the pitching. We’ve got a pretty good wind today. She’s gone 11-12 innings and pitched very well so I’m very proud of her. She’s a gamer. She had a good nice rise today.”
Michelle DeAngelis, in her second year as Wadsworth coach, said it is one of the few times her team found offense in short supply.
“It was two good teams playing a good game,” she said. “We’ve got to come up with some big hits when we need them. Today we struggled to score runs but we haven’t all season. I’m very confident in our hitters.
“We’ll bounce back from this. I always tell the girls, good teams have good teammates, so we learn from this loss and take it here into the second half of the season.”
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