AKRON — Behind freshman Carly Bachna’s extra-base hitting and senior Caitlyn Minney’s three-hit shutout pitching, Elyria rolled into a Division I state championship Thursday night.
The third-ranked Pioneers defeated Mason of the Cincinnati area, 5-0, to earn yet another title game shot at nemesis No. 1, undefeated North Canton Hoover at 10 a.m. Saturday. The teams met in state finals in 2006 and ’08 and the Vikings won 2-0 and 1-0.
Hoover, a 15-3 mercy-rule winner over Mentor in Thursday’s opener, defeated Elyria in extra innings in Keystone’s annual Prebis Classic this year in LaGrange.
Elyria (26-5) finally left the field at 10:46 p.m., 10 hours and 16 minutes after its scheduled start because of a light but persistent rainfall.
Twice, the grounds crew rolled out its tarps before play resumed after a delay that lasted from 12:03 p.m. until 6:20 when the Hoover-Mentor game resumed with no outs in the bottom of the first inning.
The weather wiped out the two Division IV semifinals scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Those will be played starting at 9 a.m. today, kicking off a six-game marathon.
As a result, Division III Columbia is expected to play its first state semifinal against Columbus Bishop Ready starting at about 4:30 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for 12:30.
In a lineup change, coach Ken Fenik moved Bachna up to third in the batting order to take advantage of her recent clutch hitting, making her the first right-handed batter Mason (23-8) would face.
She responded well, going 2-for-3 with a third-inning triple, a seventh-inning double and three RBIs.
“I feel amazing,” Bachna said. “I’m just happy I can do anything for my team. I want to be here because of the seniors and coach Fenik. It feels great.”
Minney, who got stronger as the game wore on, struck out nine and walked three to notch her 22nd win of the season against three defeats. She said all of her pitches worked well.
Junior center fielder Kaitlin Laseke turned in the defensive play of the game.
With one out and a runner at second in the third inning, she made a running, diving, sliding catch of a shot off the bat of the Comets’ Megan Warren that almost certainly would have gone for extra bases and driven in a run.
“It was kind of instinct,” Laseke said. “It seems like lately, its been dive after dive after dive with me. It’s just instinct for me to dive for a ball in the outfield.”
Many in the crowd said they thought the day’s entire schedule should have been postponed until today, moving the second day of semifinals to Saturday and the final to Sunday.
OHSAA assistant commissioner Roxanne Price said she and other tournament officials decided against it because of the uncertainty of the weather today and the rest of the weekend. It was thought prudent, she said, to play as many games as possible Thursday.
Fenik said the long, dreary day didn’t bother the Pioneers.
“They adjusted very well,” he said, “and it gave them a chance to go back to the hotel and take a little power nap.”
- WHAT: Division I final
- WHO: Elyria (27-5) vs. North Canton Hoover (33-0)
- STATE RANK: Elyria 3rd; Hoover, 1st
- WHEN: Saturday, 10 a.m.
- WHERE: Firestone Stadium, Akron
- RADIO: WEOL 930-AM
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.