WELLINGTON — For the first time, a team from Sheffield is headed to the Ohio Girls Softball Organization state tournament.
The Sheffield Crushers and undefeated Columbia Raiders won Lorain-Medina Class D district championships Saturday to qualify for the state quarterfinals next weekend at Wellington Community Park.
Both teams in the 18-and-under age group came from behind to do it.
The Crushers trailed Oberlin 1-0 and 2-1 before the offense went on a 12-1 tear and put up a 13-3 mercy-rule win.
The Raiders, who trailed the Buckeye Bucks 4-1, took a 5-4 lead in the fifth and scored three more runs in the sixth for an 8-5 win. It will be their second straight trip to the state tourney.
In a show of endurance, Columbia pitcher Emily Gault pitched and won two games for the day. In the championship game, Raiders shortstop Emily Viccarone made back-to-back highlight-film diving catches to stifle what otherwise might have become a Buckeye rally in the sixth inning.
“I wasn’t hitting well so I was like, ‘I have to make up for it with my defense,” Viccarone said. “It just came natural to me. We’ve said all season we have to have lock-down defense and that’s what I was thinking, don’t let the ball go through.”
Of the comeback, Viccarone said: “We just got mad and we went into attack mode. We don’t get down like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna lose, we’re gonna lose.’ That never goes through our minds.”
Columbia manager Tom Bowes said his Raiders have improved since last season in part because they’re older. He also praised the work of Viccarone and Gault.
“Emily (Viccarone) had an outstanding game and Emily Gault pitched two beauties,” he said. “On a hot day like this, she was awesome. She hit her spots and kept them off balance and she was definitely the player of the day.”
Nicolette Kunath had a triple, the Raiders’ only extra-base hit, and the Bucks’ Nikki Koontz and Jordan Fleck each doubled. Columbia will take a 17-0 record into the state tourney.
Sheffield’s Amanda Surface hit two doubles and a single, Briana Contreras hit three singles and Kirsten Lara belted a triple and home run to lead the Crushers (12-4) past Oberlin. Marissa Bias contributed two singles. Oberlin’s Judie Lesesne and Hannah Richard both hit two singles and a triple and Alex Walsh had two singles.
“These girls have been together for four years and they’ve come a long way,” Crushers manager Tony Contreras said. “We started out slow this year, but we finished up strong.”
In the semifinal round, Oberlin defeated LaGrange via forfeit 7-0, Sheffield defeated the Columbia Eagles 3-2, the Columbia Raiders routed Wellington Harrison Ford 10-0 and Buckeye drilled North Ridgeville 14-6.
Amanda Surface hit a single and double and Maddy Heffley two singles for Sheffield. Apri Bohnen had two singles and Sam Clark a double for the Columbia Eagles.
Buckeye’s Fleck and Chrissy Nichols each singled and homered, Taylor Joppeck added a third home run, and Cheyenne Dedauw and Erica Favre had two singles in the win over Ridgeville. Makayla Karner rapped four singles and Morgan Leach three for Ridgeville. Ruby Tanner tripled.
And Kunath hit two doubles, Crystal Fetchet two singles and Heather Walaszewski a double in Columbia’s win over Wellington. Michelle Perry put up a single and double and Katherine Gilbert two singles for Harrison Ford.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sheffield Crushers 13, Oberlin 3
Columbia Raiders 8, Buckeye Bucks 5
Oberlin 7, LaGrange 0 (forfeit)
Sheffield Crushers 3, Columbia Eagles 2
Columbia Raiders 10, Wellington Harrison Ford 0
Buckeye Bucks 14, North Ridgeville 6