PERRY TWP. — She detests her given first name. She doesn't like giving up walks as a pitcher or giving away her at-bats, either.
It's that feisty, never-give-up attitude that makes Melissa "Chubbas" Holzopfel and Perry softball winners.
The Panthers' No. 2 pitcher behind All-Ohioan Payton Gottshall, Holzopfel struggled with her control Thursday against visiting Archbishop Hoban, walking six Knights and hitting another. But the sophomore struck out six and allowed just two hits and she also delivered two hits at the plate, including an RBI double, as the Panthers outlasted the gritty Knights for a 6-2 win.
Last year, Perry coach Scott Daugherty used a 1-2 pitching punch of Gottshall and now-graduated Makenna Durieux to win the Division I state championship. With an even more difficult schedule this year, he wanted to run Holzopfel out there a day after Gottshall hurled the Panthers to a season-opening 3-1 win over Hoover.
"Physically, she has all the tools," Daugherty said of Holzopfel. "We have to keep working on her confidence and get her to eliminate the things she can't control, like the umpire's calls.
"We really like what have in Chubbas, as well as Payton. We really like our 1-2 combination."
Everyone including her parents calls her Chubbas, or Chub, Holzopfel said.
"I'm not a fan of my real name," Holzopfel said. "I go by Missy but I like Chubbas. I've been called Chubbas since I was a baby [she resembled the Michelin man's chubby body]. Doc [Daugherty] was my first coach, when I was 8, and he thought it was offensive. I told Doc last year he had to call me that."
So Daugherty called on her to start. There were two instances that defined Holzopfel and the game's outcome.
Hoban was a hit away from taking the lead when it had the bases loaded in the fifth inning trailing 3-2 after Lily Botos' RBI single to right broke up Holzopfel's no-hitter. A batter later, Holzopfel deflected a grounder to shortstop Rylee Pireu, who threw to first for the third out.
In the sixth inning Botos, Hoban's ace, intentionally walked Holzopfel with one out and first base open to get to the No. 4 hitter, Gottshall. Holzopfel let out an exasperated yell as she left first base for a courtesy runner. Her next vocal release was a cheer after Gotshall whacked a long fly that curved inside the left field foul pole for a three-run homer.
"It showed some respect but I just wanted to hit," said Holzopfel, who went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI double in the second that made it 3-0 Panthers. "Payton came up and did the job for me."
Hoban coach Frank Voss said there was no good choice in that situation.
"[Holzopfel] was hitting the ball pretty well all day," he said. "But I knew the batter behind her was a strong hitter. Obviously, that wasn't a good call by me."