Walsh Jesuit sophomore Taylor Rahach was on top of her game Thursday — as a pitcher and a hitter.
Rahach’s largest contribution to the Warriors’ softball team this season has been inside the pitching circle with her right arm. Her swing also made a difference Thursday in Walsh’s 4-0 victory over Geneva (21-3) in a Division II regional semifinal at Firestone Stadium.
Rahach pitched a no-hitter, struck out 13 and walked one. At the plate, she went 2-for-3.
“My rise ball has been my best pitch for weeks and our team just hitting-wise is doing awesome,” Rahach said. “I have confidence in everybody. We are all doing well.”
Walsh (25-5) will play Fairless in a regional final at Firestone Stadium at noon Saturday.
“This is a great feeling and a great group of kids to be here with,” Walsh senior Lauren Cianciolo said. “I am very excited.”
Rahach started off both innings in which Walsh scored with hits. Sophomore Lilli Piper also made an impact at the plate against Eagles senior left-handed pitcher Amy Pitcher.
Walsh took a 2-0 lead in the third. Rahach led off with a single up the middle. Freshman Jessica Harbaugh entered as a pinch runner and scored three pitches later when Piper hit a double to left-center field. Piper scored two batters later on a wild pitch.
The Warriors added two runs in the fifth to make it 4-0. Rahach led off the inning with a double that hit the left-field fence on one hop and Piper followed with a single to left. Senior Jackie Ammar hit a sacrifice fly to right that scored Harbaugh, who was running for Rahach, and Piper also scored on the play after an errant throw.
“During the year, Taylor had some minor injuries here and there, so she didn’t get to bat until the last three weeks,” Walsh coach Bill Davis said. “As coaches, she makes us look like geniuses. We have a tremendous hitting coach in Charlie Ries that really helps me.”
Rahach, 16, has pitched five no-hitters this season, and has a perfect game to her name against Woodridge in a sectional final.
“She is real calm, even keel and doesn’t take anything for granted,” Davis said.
Rahach said she has overcome a lower back injury that slowed her earlier in the season.
“I was just trying to hit the ball because earlier in the season I didn’t have the chance to hit,” Rahach said. “I am just trying to make the most of it now and show what I can do.”
Walsh scorekeeper Bill Leslie said Rahach has 228 strikeouts in 139 innings this season. He also said Piper has 44 hits in 87 at-bats this season.
“I am just very focused and really excited to be here,” Piper said. “I am a sophomore and enjoying the moment right now. I just put the ball in play and wasn’t asking for much.”
Davis praised Piper, 15, for her consistent play at shortstop and at the plate.
“We go as she goes and she loves that responsibility,” Davis said. “When she goes, we all kind of breathe a little easier and we do a little better.”
Davis said he had two left-handers, senior Kayla Navratil and his daughter, Katarina Davis, a 2012 Walsh graduate and a freshman at Lake Erie College, help prepare Warriors batters to face Pitcher, a lefty.
“I think that really helped us,” Bill Davis said. “It made a big difference. … Every team that we play, and no disrespect to them, but they see the young ladies. They never see the army behind them. It starts with our school, our AD Grant [Conzaman], our boosters, our coaches, our players and our faculty.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.