ASHLAND — Two softball unbeatens, Elyria and Maumee, tangled Friday afternoon in an opener of the 21st Annual Wendy’s Spring Classic.
Well, sort of tangled.
It was more like the Pioneers broadsided the Panthers in a 9-0 mercy-rule rout at Cahn Grove Park. The game ended in the Elyria fifth when senior Kandis Laseke drove home Jessica Sito and Madison Fullmer with a sharp single to center field. For tournament purposes, the usual 10-run mercy-rule margin is eight runs after 4½ innings.
In another opener, Columbia dropped a 12-4 decision to perennial toughie Jeromesville Hillsdale in a Wendy’s spotlight game under the lights on the Brookside Park main diamond. The Raiders will face off against Columbus Bishop Ready at 10:50 this morning in Loudonville, south of Ashland. The field is at 100 Wally Road.
Both the Raiders (Division III) and Pioneers (Division I) were state runner-up last season.
Elyria (5-0) returns to action at 9 a.m. today in a Red bracket semifinal against Lebanon of southwestern Ohio, also at Cahn Grove Park. Lebanon defeated the Pioneers 3-1 in a 2012 state semifinal at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
Wendy’s games are usually played on the diamonds at Brookside Park and Brookside West, about a mile down the road. While the main Brookside diamond was in shape despite heavy rains, the fields at Brookside West were not and the games had to be moved. Some were played at Cahn Grove and in other communities south of Ashland.
As for the Pioneers, Kandis Laseke’s game-ending shot came on a 2-and-1 pitch she said she couldn’t resist. There was just one problem.
“The hit was good, but my back hurt because I hit it,” Laseke said, referring to hitting her own back with the bat. “When I swing the bat, I always end up hitting my shoulder. The (victory) feels pretty good. They have a good pitcher, but we came out and did what we had to do.”
Her big hit was the finishing touch on a huge inning in which the Pioneers batted around and scored five runs on Laseke’s hit, three walks, two sacrifices and two fielder’s choices. And it went well with her twin sister Kaitlyn’s first-inning triple, three RBIs and two runs scored.
Sophomore pitcher Elizabeth Ellis went the distance, striking out four and walking none in a two-hitter. One of Maumee’s (5-1) hits was a scratch infield single in the first inning. Ellis also went 2-for-3 at the plate and put up an RBI.
Kaitlyn Laseke and sophomore Carly Bachna hit triples, the Pioneers’ only extra-base hits. Laseke’s first-inning shot drove a run home and Bachna’s, with one out in the third, might have been an inside-the-park home run. But she lost her footing on the damp, loose dirt as she rounded third base and was forced to stay there. Bachna, Mackenzie Phares and Kaitlyn Laseke each scored two runs.
“I’m happy any time you can come to Ashland and win with the kind of competition that’s here,” Pioneers coach Ken Fenik said. “The girls are playing real well right now and I hope we continue to get better for (postseason) tournament time. But we’ll see what happens. Our whole league (Northeast Ohio Conference) is strong this year. Today was a good test for us and tomorrow will be an even bigger test.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.