Games that will lead to a state champion and three other ASA national tournament qualifiers will begin at 8 this morning, creating a short night’s sleep for some of the players, coaches and fans.
Among the qualifiers by midnight were the MC Madness Black, whose roster includes several area players; the Ohio Lasers Silver, which also has area players; Northern Ohio Softball, Ohio Ice Gold, Ohio Swarm, Ohio Stingrays/Morman and Valley Extreme
The other qualifiers were scheduled to play in games starting as late as 1 o’clock this morning.
There are no Lorain County-based teams in the tournament, which opened Friday with a field of 32. Nevertheless, several players representing area high schools have seen action this weekend.
Notable are those on the MC Madness Black squad, coached by Gary Saunders, a former Keystone assistant, now an assistant coach at Baldwin Wallace University.
That roster includes Columbia’s Emma Sullivan, a BW recruit who earned second-team All-Ohio honors and was Lorain County’s Division III most valuable player this year, and Sam Dostall of Firelands, a second-team Northeast District selection and the county’s Division II pitcher of the year.
Also on the squad is Vermilion’s Caitlin Urgo, Dagmar Smith of Black River, a second-team All-Ohio selection and Division III pitcher of the year; Midview senior-to-be Amanda Buersken, named All-Ohio honorable mention, who was the county’s home run leader with 13 this year, and Kay Lee Fox of Vermilion, who plays at Milan Edison, a first-team All-Ohio selection.
Fox, a catcher, belted two home runs Saturday to lead the Madness Black to an 8-0 mercy-rule rout of the strong Ohio Lasers Gold squad. Lasers Gold, although without its No. 1 pitcher, had not previously lost via the run rule.
The Explosive Black roster includes a number of former Elyria High regulars, among them pitcher Caitlyn Minney, Alyssa Barker — a 2012 graduate — outfielder Holly Howser, catcher Haley Looney and shortstop Marie Masters, along with Columbia’s Amanda Sedlock.
In addition, the MC Madness Red team features two other Columbia standouts, the versatile Christine Lyzen and Sam Goode.
Elyria Parks and Recreation Department maintenance staff went to work in the early hours Saturday to get the West Park diamonds ready for action. Despite their efforts, action began on a two-hour delay.
“We were real close to playing, but my maintenance guy called me at like 6:05 this (Saturday) morning and said two of the fields were OK but the other two were not,” said tournament director Garry Mason. “So we made the decision to move everything back a couple of hours.”
Frank Gustoff, Elyria Parks and Recreation Department director, praised the work of Mason and the grounds crew.
“When I came out here, I was surprised to see they were playing at all,” Gustoff said. “Our guys did a fantastic job of getting the fields ready for play. It’s a real credit to them and the city that they were able to get the park ready for a tournament of this magnitude. I appreciate it and I know the players, coaches, umpires and spectators do as well.”