COPLEY: One down, six more to go.
That is how Copley softball coach Glenn McCoy and his Indians viewed their 9-0 victory over visiting Firestone on Tuesday in a Division I sectional final.
Yes, Copley earned a sectional title and can add a banner to its gymnasium.
But the Indians’ primary focus remains on winning a state championship, and in order to do that, they now must win two games apiece in the district, regional and state brackets.
“This is the first step of a long, long road,” McCoy said. “They played well and they did everything I asked them to do. They hit well and Kenzi [Wallace] pitched well.”
Senior right-hander Wallace led the Indians (18-4) by striking out 14 and limiting the Falcons (12-10) to two hits and one hit batter in a shutout.
“Her change-up was pretty good today and her drop ball had a lot of movement,” Copley senior catcher Emma Fish said.
Copley will play Wadsworth in a district semifinal at 4:30 p.m. on Monday at Barberton.
The Indians recently won their second consecutive Suburban League championship after posting a 21-2 overall record last season and making a Division I regional semifinal appearance. Copley is 26-2 in league play the past two years.
Junior Lizzie Fela smacked a two-run home run to left field with two out in the first to give Copley a 2-0 lead.
Fish scored on the homer after reaching base on an error.
“In that at-bat I fouled one off down the left-field line and it went really far,” Fela said.
“Then there was a pitch right down the middle of the plate and I stayed back and hit it out. I pulled it and it went over the fence.”
Senior Brooke Hoefle and junior Jenna Redd each scored runs for Copley in the second inning to make it 4-0. Wallace and senior Casey Burns both drove in a run.
The four runs were more than enough for Wallace, who struck out eight batters in a row between the first and third innings.
“I knew I had to make a point that I am not going to lie down for any team,” Wallace said. “My dad always tells me to pitch my best, regardless the level of the game.
‘‘Pitching with the lead helps me relax, but not get too relaxed. It takes some pressure off so I don’t overpitch and tense up.”
Redd scored on an error in the fourth to make it 5-0. Fela doubled and scored in the fifth following a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Maddie Flasco and a sacrifice fly by Hoefle.
The Indians added three runs in the sixth inning — Fish doubled in Wallace, and Burns followed with a two-run home run to left field.
“It felt great to hit a home run,” Burns said. “It was really needed because the first few innings the softball gods hated me. [Firestone] made a few really nice catches on two lineouts. They were really hard hits and very frustrating. I had to keep my head up and come back.”
Falcons freshman Madi Wellendorf was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning and sophomores Samantha Lewis and Meredith Eichenlaub both got a hit in the sixth.
“I think Wallace did a great job,” Firestone coach Bruce Clough said.
“She kept us off our balance the whole game and we never really got on track with the line of hits that we needed to overcome their defense.
‘‘Overall, they have a great team and she is the best pitcher we have faced this year by far.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.