Madi McCrady pitched a one-hit shutout and Walsh Jesuit scored all three of its runs with two outs in defeating Mentor 3-0 in a Division I regional semifinal Thursday at the University of Akron.
The Warriors (21-5) will face Hoover (18-10) for the regional title Saturday at UA’s Jackson Field. The time is to be determined.
“Our schedule gets us ready,” Walsh coach Bill Davis said. “We’ve seen this type of pitching all year, so I think it helped us. And Madi has seen some very good lineups.”
One of Walsh Jesuit’s superstitions is that only McCrady is allowed to touch the game ball between innings.
Nothing went awry against the Cardinals (19-6) as McCrady, a junior right-hander, retired the first 13 batters she faced and yielded just two base runners, striking out nine and walking one.
“After the other team’s catcher has rolled the ball back to the circle, Madi is the only one who can pick up the ball,” said junior second baseman Emma Lawson, who singled and scored the game’s second run in the sixth, and then turned a rally-crushing double play for the Warriors in the seventh.
McCrady (18-4) and her opposite number, Mentor senior pitcher Allison Golic (six innings, three earned runs, six hits, eight strikeouts, no walks), will be summer ball teammates, and became friends last year during fall games and practices.
Golic had Mentor’s only hit — a one-out double to left in the fifth — and was stranded at second following a pop up and a strikeout.
“[McCrady] is probably the hardest pitcher we faced this season,” said Golic, who is related to Bob and Mike Golic. “She has speed and movement.”
“The first time through the order, we were late. The second time through we started catching up. It was just too little too late,” Mentor coach Michelle Thompson said.
McCrady struck out five straight hitters early in the game and felt she had command for the most part of her five pitches.
“I know we have to take it one game at a time,” she said. “Each of these games means so much to us. We, right now, are closer than we’ve ever been as a team. [Emma Lawson] is a huge pump up for this team.”
The Warriors broke on top 1-0 in the bottom of the third. Freshman catcher Kristin Kuhrt led off with a double to the warning track in left center field. With one out, pinch runner Veronica Zack was sacrificed to third, and then with two strikes, junior center fielder Julia Mullins tapped an RBI infield single between Golic and the second baseman.
“I knew it was important to put the ball into play,” Mullins said. “Anything to give the team momentum.”
With two outs in the sixth, Walsh Jesuit added plenty of insurance when junior left fielder Angie Bobish and senior shortstop McKenzie Gerry blasted back-to-back RBI doubles.
“A one-run lead was not much of a comfort zone,” Lawson said.
Bobish ripped her double to the deepest part of the ballpark in straightaway center, while Gerry narrowly missed a home run off the fence in left center.
Hoover defeated Walsh 3-1 on a miserable day on April 30 at the Prebis Memorial in LaGrange.
“I’m probably prouder of the way our girls carry themselves off the field,” Davis said. “Hopefully we can make some noise on Saturday.”