NORTH CANTON: About an hour and a half and only 4› innings were needed Thursday for the North Canton Hoover softball team to enter the win column in its season opener.
What else would you expect from the defending Division I state champions?
Massillon gave a valiant effort, but Hoover sophomores Jenna Lilley and Kelly Dillow both collected two hits and junior right-hander Caly Russo pitched a complete game to guide the host Vikings to a 12-2 victory at Price Park.
“It was great to start our first game like this,” Lilley said. “We came out really strong. Our team theme this year is to ‘Make it count.’?’’
The Vikings overcame a 2-0 deficit by scoring 12 unanswered runs in the four innings they batted to drop the Tigers (1-2).
Lilley, who has orally committed to the University of Oregon, hit a double and single, walked twice and scored two runs from the third spot in Hoover’s batting order.
She was comfortable in the left-handed batter’s box as she returned from a fractured left forearm bone she suffered in November while playing in a Showcase Tournament for the Chicago Bandits travel team.
Hoover had an early scare in the top of the first inning, when Massillon’s Jessica Reiman hit a two-run home run to left-center with two outs. Nicole Spuhler singled just before Reiman’s homer.
“Caly just didn’t make a good pitch,” Hoover coach Jerry Goodpasture said. “Reiman is a strong girl. Pitchers will give up home runs when they don’t make a good pitch. It happens sometimes.
“Caly settled in and did a good job after that.”
Russo allowed just one more hit for the remainder of the game. She struck out four, hit two and walked none.
Hoover responded quickly to erase its deficit with three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Lilley doubled in junior Mackenzie DiPietro, senior Sarah Wechter walked to score junior pinch runner Jordan Stump and Russo walked to score Dillow.
“We all have faith and trust in each other,” Lilley said. “We knew we could come back. There was no panic.”
The Vikings added five runs in the second inning. DiPietro scored on an error after Lilley singled.
Senior Sarah Nist singled in Lilley and Stump, and senior Riley Kiesling singled in Dillow and Nist.
Three runs followed for Hoover in the third inning when Dillow singled in Lilley and Russo doubled in Stump and Dillow.
Vikings junior Ally Farrah scored the final run in the fourth, when DiPietro smacked a double.
Goodpasture was pleased with his team’s plate discipline, which resulted in drawing 10 walks (two intentionally to senior catcher Erika Warren, a Kent State recruit).
Hoover, which posted a 30-3 record last season, is seeking its sixth state title in softball.
“This is a good start,” Goodpasture said.
“Anytime you can win your first ballgame, it’s good.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.