By Noah Ricks
LEAVITTSBURG, OH – It was a long time coming for the illustrious Champion softball program. After COVID canceling the 2020 season, falling short in the district finals in 2021, and then in the sectional finals in 2022, they finally got back to where they wanted to be. As a result, they won their first district championship since 2019 with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Lakeview in front of a packed house at LaBrae High School.
Champion had a field day out on the field as they just had to sit back and let young sophomore Gabby Gradishar do her splendid work on the mound. She just missed out on another perfect game in the tournament, giving up just one hit and compiling 13 strikeouts on the evening. Assisting Gradishar was the intact communication of second base player Savannah Tvaroch and first base player Abigail Meadors, as they were right there to tag the Lakeview runner out.
Despite the batting struggles, Lakeview’s defense had a strong showing against the loaded batting core of Champion, as they had nice saves with tagging the bags in the knick of time, all while guarding the home plate well. However, Champion relied on Meadors to find the hole in that defense as her 2 RBIs helped pave the way to Golden Flash victory. Her RBIs came in the first inning, as she caught the Bulldogs on an error, and then in the fifth inning as she had the right placement just into the right field grass to extend the lead. It then took none other than a Gradishar strikeout in the top of the seventh to seal the deal for the team.
Champion improves to 24-3 with their district championship win in four years. They will start their run at their first regional title since their state title run of 2018 when they play LaGrange Keystone at the Willig Softball Complex in Canton on Wednesday at 2:00 PM. Lakeview finishes their Cinderella season at 18-4.
YSN’s Noah Ricks talked to Champion coach Cheryl Weaver, starting pitcher Gabby Gradishar, and first base player Abigail Meadors following the contest. All three interviews can be watched below.