Welcome back to the Hot Corner! We had to deal with some chilly weather this week, but the softball was hot. Things are starting to really take form as teams dive into their conference schedules. Some teams made some big strides towards a conference championship this week.
High School Recap:
We opened up the week with the highly anticipated South Range vs Poland matchup. Both teams came in to this series undefeated and knew that these games would give the winners a huge leg up. It was Poland that came away with the season sweep. They used power in both games to lift past the Raiders. The Bulldogs hit 4 home runs in 2 games. The most impressive thing about their wins though, was that they did it by getting production from the bottom half of their lineup. The Bulldogs looked much deeper in their lineup than in weeks past, and that makes them a very dangerous team. With Hubbard splitting their series with Girard, Poland is now sitting all alone atop the NE8. Hubbard and South Range meet this week and that series is a must win for both if they want to try and keep pace with Poland.
Ursuline continues to impress. They are still undefeated, and I had a chance to see them live again against Champion. The Irish lineup is lethal. It is quite honestly as close to a college lineup as I’ve seen in high school. 1-9 everyone can hit and put together quality at bats. The Irish have hit 18 HRs as a team in 12 games played. The power is spread out too, seven different hitters have hit a long ball this year. To add to the offensive productivity, Emily Holland and Paige Ogden have looked solid in the circle. They aren’t just winning slugfests, they’re run ruling teams by blasting on offense, and shutting people down on defense. Holland has a sub 1 ERA of 0.80 and Ogden has an ERA of 1.59.
One of the biggest wins of the seasons so far was LaBrae’s 6-0 win over McDonald on Friday night. Desi Allen was the pitcher that shined in this matchup, and the Vikings offense figured out the puzzle that is Bri Callow in the circle. Like most teams with a dominant ace, in times when she struggles the offense tends to tighten up. Unfortunately McDonald fell in to that trap and Allen took complete advantage of it, and shut them down. Allen threw all 7 innings, only giving up 4 hits and struck out 7. Allen might be one of those pitchers that sits under the radar and shocks some people come tournament time.
I broadcasted two extra inning games this week, and both were very exciting games that were cleanly played. Mooney walked off Mineral Ridge in 9 innings with a walk off infield single by Alaina Francis. This particular game was so fun to watch. Both defenses were locked in. Even the walk off hit was a great defensive play by Rams third baseman Maddy Ylonen who just couldn’t make the throw across the diamond in time. Haleigh Taylor for Ridge and Alaina Scavina for Mooney both pitched extremely well. Taylor got out of a couple of big jams proving that she could throw in high pressure situations. This will come up huge in tournaments for the Rams. Despite the loss I think Mineral Ridge can use this game as momentum as the season goes on.
i also broadcasted the extra inning game in Boardman as Champion beat Boardman 4-3 in 9 innings. Cassidy Shaffer led the Flashes to the big bounce back win. They lost to Ursuline 13-6 the night before. This game included a big seventh inning rally by Boardman. Madison Lester came to the plate with 2 on and 2 outs trailing 3-1 and hit a clutch 2 RBI double to send the game into extras. Cassidy Shaffer hit in the winning run for Champion, and got the win inside the circle. Champion’s record may be a little surprising based on their past resume, but don’t forget that they are scheduling way up. If Shaffer stays down in the zone and pitches to contact, Champion will go far. Their infield is way above average and perfectly suited to field the many ground balls that Shaffer tends to induce.
YSU has 3 former YSN players on their roster and the Penguins had a huge sweep of second place Oakland to further strengthen their stance in first place in the Horizon League. Sophie Howell from Champion pitched 6 innings on Saturday and only gave up 1 run on 5 hits. She struck out 6. She continues to make the most out of opportunities given. The Penguins staff is very deep this year, but these innings that Howell is getting now will pay dividends in the years to come when the Penguins rely on her more. Former Mooney Cardinal Conchetta Rinaldi got in the RBI party over the weekend for the Penguins. Since YSU is without a pitching coach, Rinaldi pretty much calls the whole game herself. This is so rare in the sport these days. Rinaldi does a fantastic job understanding the pitching staff, and studying up on opposing hitters. In my opinion Rinaldi has a hand in every single impressive pitching stat the Penguins gather this season. Former South Range Raider Caragyn Yanek picked up her 7th win of her senior season as Findlay split a double header with Tiffin. Yanek now has an ERA of 2.40 with a great strike out to walk ratio of 64 K and 13 BB. Allison Smith from Champion continues to get consistent starts for Ohio State. She pitched well on Sunday in the Buckeyes season finale against Indiana. The Buckeyes lost 3-0, but Smith did an excellent job keeping the Buckeyes in the game. Smith’s ERA is still an impressive 3.18. She leads the team in strike outs with 87 K in 88.0 IP.
Special Guest: Lexi Zappitelli
(Courtesy YSU Athletics)
Lexi spent four years as a YSU Penguin from 2016-2019. Before YSU Zappitelli was an First team All-State senior at Conneaut High School. She finished her senior season with a .574 batting average. She also pitched well in high school and finished her senior season with a 20-4 record and an ERA of 1.25. Lexi became a staple in the Penguins lineup during her junior season. Zappitelli started 41 games in 2018 and hit .413 with 30 R and 22 RBI. Now that her playing career is over, Lexi has taken a job on staff at Conneaut. Going through a division 1 career, and coming back to her old high school Zappitelli is sure to bring a lot to the staff at Conneaut. And who knows? Some YSN teams might just run into Zappitelli down the road in the tournaments.