GRAFTON — If South Amherst Firelands wasn’t having fun prior to the second inning of Wednesday’s Class D OGSO county championship game against the Sheffield Crushers, it was having a party by the third inning.
Firelands scored 11 runs in the inning to propel it to a 13-8 win and its second consecutive county championship.
“We play the best when we play for fun and tonight we were loose and having fun,” Firelands center fielder Alex Willis said. “We really wanted another county championship, but we also wanted to enjoy our final game of the year together.”
Firelands, state runners-up in Class D, trailed 4-1 after one inning, but turned the game around by sending 16 batters to the plate in the second.
“After they batted around in the first inning, I came in told our team, ‘We need to go through our batting order now, too,’” Willis said. “I challenged my team to win every inning.”
Willis had two doubles and scored a pair of runs for Firelands, which ended its season with a 15-4 record.
“The girls were light-hearted and having fun before the game and it carried over to how we played once we got started,” Firelands manager Jed Willis said. “It’s nice to go out with a win. We could have done better at the state level, but we put that out of our mind. Claire (Vilagi) pitched a great game for us tonight and we had that one big inning where we hit the ball and took advantage of their mistakes.”
Vilagi struck out six Crushers hitters and helped her own cause by scoring two runs.
“I cleared my mind before the game and just came out and did what I had to do,” she said. “All of my pitches were working. I
kept my head up when our defense fell apart a little bit, then all of a sudden they made some big plays behind me. I knew that our offense would come out and do some work tonight.”
Sheffield battled back by scoring two runs in the fifth and sixth innings before ending its season with a 13-3 record.
Columbia wins Class C
The Columbia Crushers built an early lead and withstood a late Lorain rally to defeat the Dirt Devils 7-4 in the Class C championship game.
Both teams were playing the game shorthanded as Columbia had a number of players — including its top pitcher — unavailable due to their participation in a travel tournament. Meanwhile Lorain only had nine players in uniform, one of which was still recovering from an early season injury and could only play part of the first inning, forcing the Dirt Devils to finish the game with eight defenders and an automatic out at the bottom of their batting order.
“We’ve had the chance to win county three times and this is our first time winning it, so it was really exciting,” Crushers catcher Natalie Wilkins said. “We were missing our normal pitcher and one of our power hitters so we were a little nervous before the game. It feels awesome to finally win a championship.”
Wilkins scored the Crushers first run after hitting a single in her first at-bat. She also scored in Columbia’s three-run, third inning.
Columbia and Lorain both lost Sunday in the Class C state semifinals and will meet again Saturday in Wellington in the consolation game.
“I think losing that last game just made us come back and want to win this even more,” said Columbia first baseman Sarah Robinson, who doubled and scored a pair of runs. “We’ve had the chance to win this (county championship) before, but it’s the first time we ever did it. The last time we played them I did horrible. I am glad I played better tonight.”
Kaitlynn Krupinski allowed just one earned run while pitching her first complete game of the season.
“It was tough having a couple of the key pieces missing,” Crushers manager Scott Bouscher said. “We were rotating the lineup around a little bit and everyone really responded. We came in with a relaxed approach and I think that helped us.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.