WELLINGTON — All season the North Ridgeville Lady Rangers were focused on getting ready for the regional tournament.
On Monday, that focused paid off.
North Ridgeville fell behind early but battled back for a 6-5 win over Columbia Vitamix in Ohio Girls Softball Organization Class D (ages 15-18) action at Wellington Community Park.
The Lady Rangers’ 3-12 record may not look impressive but they’re just one win away from the state tournament. They play Sheffield today at 6 p.m.
“The whole season we’ve focused on staying positive and gearing up for the tournament,” North Ridgeville manager Jeff Hammond said. “We had two goals coming into the season: getting the girls ready for high school softball and going deep in the tournament.”
After Columbia took a 5-2 lead in the second inning, the Rangers scored two runs in the fourth and took the lead on a Taylor Knight RBI triple in the fifth.
“I was trying all game to get that hit down the right field line. As soon as I hit it I was like, ‘Yeah, I got this,’” Knight said. “I feel good about my hit and I feel good that we won, but hopefully we don’t get too excited because we know we’re going to have another tough battle tomorrow.”
After struggling through the first two innings, Emilie Groh held Columbia scoreless over the final five.
“Our mood and our focus really got better as the game went on,” Groh said. “That helped me to improve my pitching. We knew how we played against Columbia during the season and we watched how they warmed up and we felt like we had this game.”
Hammond said Groh has been one of the team’s primary contributors all season.
“Groh is an experienced player and a great pitcher,” he said. “But, more importantly, she’s also a true leader on this team. She’s one of the older players and she really knows how to get the team ready to play.”
The Heat is on
Wellington Heat coach Dee Brown hadn’t seen a performance from her team all season like the one it put on in an 8-3 win over Amherst Lightning in Class C (ages 13-14) play.
“These girls played the best they did all year. I’m very proud of every one of them,” Brown said. “It started in our warm-ups. The girls were fielding the balls and doing everything they’ve been told to do.”
Heat lead-off hitter Rachel Bremke scored three runs to lead the offense.
“I was aggressive in the batter’s box, and when I got on base I just ran my heart out,” Bremke said. “We came out with the best attitude we’ve had all season.”
Lexi Wright tossed a complete game for the Heat, who improved to 6-9. Wright was helped by a number of big defensive plays, none of which were as dramatic as left fielder Taylor Curtiss’ running catch in the seventh inning.
Curtiss broke on a ball hit down the left-field line and while sprinting into foul territory extended her right arm and pulled down the ball.
“Normally I don’t catch the ball that good but I kept running and I got right under it,” Curtiss said. “When I realized I caught it I just jumped up into the air, then all of my teammates came running in to congratulate me. I have the most awesome teammates. It was really cool.”
The Heat will be back in action tonight against Buckeye at 8:30.
Curtiss plans to prepare for the game in her own way.
“I’m going to rest up,” she said. “Then I’m going to drink some coffee and get pumped to play again.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wellington Heat 8, Amherst Lightning 3
Spencer 5, Wellington Fusion 0
North Ridgeville Lady Rangers 6, Columbia Vitamix 5