CUYAHOGA FALLS — An early inning dose of small ball, combined with dominant pitching earned St. Vincent-St. Mary a split of a softball doubleheader at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy on Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore right-hander Samira Dadich pitched all seven innings, scattered five hits, struck out nine and walked two in St. V-M's 5-0 victory. The Fighting Irish (4-8) scored once in the first inning and twice in the second — both scoring on squeeze bunts.
That 3-0 lead turned out to be plenty for Dadich. And two insurance runs in the seventh made it easier.
"I changed speeds a lot," Dadich said. "Keep them off-balance, use the inside corners."
She struck out five in a row during the fourth and fifth innings.
"Threw my change-up probably 75 percent of those pitches," she said.
A first-inning grand slam by sophomore Jackie Budrevich and a three-run home run by junior Lauren McNeil in the third helped CVCA (6-7) coast to a 9-1 triumph in the first game.
But St. V-M turned the tables in the second game. It was especially welcome in light of a trying week for Irish athletic fortunes.
On Thursday, both the softball and baseball teams were removed from the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournaments for 2019. That was a result of each team missing school time to participate in games with schools outside of Ohio earlier in the season.
"I told them I loved them and they know I would never do anything to jeopardize them," said St. V-M coach NickDadich, father of Samira and senior third baseman Delanie. "I also told them you have to learn from it. Everyone makes mistakes. Some get exposed. Some are lucky and you don't.
"This was a bad decision. All we can do, I can apologize for it and we can try to learn from it. And for me, myself, I can just never take something for granted. I've got to make sure I know every single rule when I make a decision."
"I take full responsibility. I've had the worst week of my life because I couldn't get that off my mind."
But thanks to Samira Dadich (3-2), the family got something to feel good about on a sun-splashed day with frequent wind gusts.
Senior Caroline Morrison and sophomore Tara Lanham (3-for-4) smacked singles with one out in the first, and Morrison scored on senior Paige Boggs' groundout.
Freshman Reagan Zajac opened the second with a single and senior Ashley Wojcik doubled, putting runners on second and third. Both beat throws home to score on well-placed bunts to the left side of the infield by senior Savannah Pate and Delanie Dadich to make it 3-0.
Budrevich and McNeil each blasted a round-tripper into a stiff wind to provide Game 1 fireworks.
"When you get some home runs into this kind of wind, it's kind of crazy," CVCA coach Jeff Johnson said.
But he then experienced the other end of the emotional spectrum.
"It's a little bit frustrating as well as we did hit the ball the first time," Johnson said. "When you face a kid like that [Dadich] that throws some good off-speed, it makes it a challenge.
"That's sort of the way we've been playing all year, it's been sort of every other game. We have the ability to do that. Just continue to keep working at it."
Senior right-hander Lindsey Curcio (3-2) earned the win for the Royals, allowing only a first-inning run. Sophomore Madi Jurisch had two singles in three at-bats.