Where: Firestone Stadium in Akron.
Who: Area teams North Canton Hoover, Tallmadge and Manchester.
Division II: Tallmadge (24-3) vs. Lima Bath (27-1) in a state semifinal at 10 a.m. today with Newark Licking Valley (27-4) and Plain City Jonathan Alder (27-1) set for 12:30 p.m. The Division II state championship will be at 10 a.m. Saturday.
A look at Tallmadge: The Blue Devils feature senior Kirsten Lightel who is 22-2 pitching with a 0.48 ERA and 232 strikeouts in 159⅔ innings, and is batting .310 with 12 RBI. Sophomore Kali Stroud (.343, four home runs), junior Joanna Catalano (.341 with 27 RBI and seniors Mackenzie Gershom (.333) and Taylor Phillips (.311) are each hitting over .300. Seniors Tori Young, Nicolette Williams, Emily Bratnick and Brandy Wakefield also start along with sophomore Lexi Philen. Coach Ed Seeker said senior Sierra Bennett (.500) could pinch-hit this weekend after missing most of May with a knee injury. “We don’t feel comfortable putting her in to play defensively, but she has been working out and swinging and running,” Seeker said. “If we can get an opportunity where we feel we can get her in to pinch-hit, we will definitely consider that.” Tallmadge won state titles in 1998, 1997, 1993, 1989, 1988, 1987 and 1981.
Division I: North Canton Hoover (27-3) vs. Lebanon (32-0) in a state semifinal at 3 p.m. today with Elyria (23-7) and Grove City (25-4) will meet at 5:30 p.m. The Division I state championship will be at 1 p.m. Saturday.
A look at Hoover: The Vikings are seeking another state title following triumphs in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2008, 2006, 1999 and 1998. Seniors Jenna Lilley, Kelly Dillow, Tara Thacker and Kaitlyn Eckelberry are experienced in big-game situations. Thacker is Hoover’s ace pitcher at 24-3 and a solid hitter. Lilley, sophomore Andrea Farrah, freshman Kaitlyn Yun and junior Kathleen Shier are each batting over .400. Dillow, Eckelberry, freshman Heather Pinney and sophomore Gina Tubo also start and are steady offensively and defensively for coach Jerry Goodpasture.
Division III: Richwood North Union (21-6) vs. Williamsport Westfall (27-3) in a state semifinal at 3 p.m. Friday with Carroll Bloom-Carroll (27-3) and Manchester (20-8) set to start at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The Division III state championship will be at 7 p.m. Saturday.
A look at Manchester: The Panthers have five seniors and five sophomores starting. Sophomore pitcher Jenna Williams has risen to the challenge in the postseason, and seniors Haylee Zwick, Kate Mash, Rachel Fincham, Courtney Roth and Brooke Horning provide leadership and production. Sophomores Mackenzie Barker, Emily Kusmits, Mira Radisic and Tatum Christy have also delivered in key moments for Manchester, which won state titles in 2001, 1990 and 1979. “Our whole team has been fairly steady with seven batters hitting over .300 and two others in the .280, .290 range,” Manchester coach Jim Morehart said. “We are fortunate to have two aces. Jenna has stepped up after an injury sidelined Brooke. Brooke is back and is hitting. We will not hesitate to put her in to pitch if needed, but Jenna has been impressive during the tournament.”
— Michael Beaven