TALLMADGE: A strikeout in the first inning carried little weight when junior Joanna Catalano stepped into the batters box with the bases loaded in the third inning Monday.
Catalano cleared her mind and smacked a line drive single up the middle to score two runs and spark the host Tallmadge softball team to a 4-2 victory over Wadsworth.
The victory upped the Blue Devils’ overall record to 14-3 and their Suburban League mark to 8-1. The Grizzlies drop to 8-7, 6-3.
“I knew after I struck out the first time that I needed to stay calm, and with the bases being loaded and only one out, I knew I needed to get a good hit in order to drive the runs in,” Catalano said.
Seniors Taylor Phillips and Emily Bratnick scored on Catalano’s hit. Senior Tori Young followed with a sacrifice fly to center field that scored senior Sierra Bennett. Phillips started the rally with a double, senior Kirsten Lightel reached base on an error and Bennett walked. Bratnick entered as a pinch runner for Lightel.
“Against a good team like that there in that third inning we have got to take the outs when they are given to us,” Wadsworth coach Michelle DeAngelis said.
“I liked that we saw a little bit of fight today though. We were up in the dugout and we have talked about how even when we are down, we have to stay up in the dugout.”
Wadsworth trimmed its deficit to 3-2 in the fifth when sophomore Julia Horton lined a double that scored juniors Hannah Rodgers and Kaitlin Murphy. Sophomore Grace Zarley reached via a walk and Rodgers entered to run for her, and Murphy singled.
Tallmadge concluded the scoring in the bottom of the fifth after Bennett hit a double and scored on a Catalano sacrifice fly.
“We know we have a bulls-eye on our back and we play as hard we can,” Catalano said. “We play relaxed and together. We are not about one single person. We are a team.”
Lightel improved her pitching record to 12-2 with a complete game. She struck out seven.
“I was struggling a little bit with some of my pitches that are usually on,” Lightel said. “My fastball wasn’t really there tonight, honestly, but my rise ball was working for the most part. I try to keep batters off balance with different speeds and movements.”
Tallmadge is scheduled to host Suburban League foes Green today, Cloverleaf on Wednesday, Highland on Thursday and Nordonia on Friday. The Blue Devils will finish their league schedule at Cloverleaf on Monday.
Tallmadge, which has the No. 1 seed in the Akron Division II sectional, will host a playoff game on May 16 against the winner of CVCA/Woodridge.
“Kirsten has done an excellent job of keeping level-headed and staying on an even keel throughout the game,” Tallmadge coach Ed Seeker said.
Phillips and senior Mackenzie Gershom both had two hits for Tallmadge. Junior Sarah Hoffman had two hits for Wadsworth.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.