RANDOLPH TWP. — For the first time since 2008, Lorain County will have at least one Ohio Girls Softball Organization state champion.
That was assured Sunday afternoon when the Class D Lorain Xplosion and Columbia Raiders defeated state semifinal opponents in the 18U age group at Moyer Fields.
They’ll meet in the title game at 4:45 p.m. Saturday at the same complex.
In addition, there could be a second state champ from the county. Class A (10U) Grafton Nancy’s Diner — behind the 18-strikeout, no-hit pitching of Sara Liszeski — hung on to defeat the Badger Braves, 3-0.
It was the second straight day Liszeski fanned 18 opponents.
The Grafton girls will take on Champion for the Class A crown at 4 p.m. Saturday. Champion was a 10-1 winner over Keystone Moyes Trucking in an earlier Sunday semifinal.
Lorain County had no Class B or C semifinalists.
Lauren Kokinda went 3-for-4 with a double and scored three runs in Lorain Xplosion’s 8-0 romp over Deerfield.
Sara Kaya pitched a nine-strikeout two-hitter as the Xplosion improved to 20-1 on the season.
Jenee Perry went 2-for-3 with three stolen bases and three runs scored.
Ashley Argenti and Emily Coakley each singled and scored a run for Lorain and Nikki Kent had a single in three at-bats.
In the fourth, Lorain turned a key 6-4-3 double play, Abby Coakley to Emily Coakley to Emily Rousch.
“Every week, these girls have gotten better,” said Xplosion coach Shawn Coakley, former Clearview athletic director now the Brooklyn High principal. “We talk about young athletes today and ‘sports IQ,’ to understand the game and not just watch the highlights on SportsCenter.
“We try to talk through every play and the girls really have a better understanding and they want to understand. They ask questions and they listen. What’s fun is when they get it, when they see it, when they understand.”
Columbia blew open its game with Ravenna on the strength of a seven-run second inning that saw the Raiders send 10 batters to the plate. The ninth was third baseman Dani Riolo, who launched a two-out solo home run that just cleared the left-field fence.
The first three Columbia batters — Kalyn Thompson, Emily Viccarone and Allison Bowes — all reached on infield singles and Heather Walaszewski followed with an RBI single to left. The Raiders also benefited from a run-scoring fielder’s choice, two sacrifice flies and a Ravenna error.
Columbia and Lorain met in OGSO’s county championship game Wednesday, with the Xplosion hanging on for a 2-1 victory.
Grafton hurler Liszeski also hit a single and double to lead the offense as well. Lauren Mathes had a single and an RBI for Nancy’s Diner, and Mackenzie Short, Rachel Buxton and Morgan Moraco also singled.
The Grafton girls had all the runs they needed after Liszeski and Moraco scored in the second inning, Moraco on Mathes’ RBI single. They add an insurance run in the fifth when Mathes ran home on a passed ball. Mathes was originally called out on a rules technicality, but the call was later overturned and her run counted.
“This was a true team effort and every one of these girls contributed something,” said Grafton coach Jen Short. “Our bats came through, our subs went in and contributed when they had to, that’s why I call it a team effort. That second inning was enough to win for us, really.”
Grafton Nancy’s Diner 3, Badger Braves 0
Champion 10, Keystone Moyes Trucking 1
Garrettsville 4, Brimfield 1
Newton Falls 12, Matthews 2
Matthews 2, Mogadore 0
Medina vs. Western Reserve-Brimfield winner, score unavailable
Lorain Xplosion 8, Deerfield 0
Columbia Raiders 10, Ravenna 1
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.