By Ty Bartell
With the weather beginning to warm up, so are plenty of teams after a little over a week of the softball regular season has gone by! One intriguing matchup that occurred Tuesday night was between The Archbishop Hoban Knights and The Canfield Cardinals. Only one loss total between the two programs, as Hoban dropped the opening game of the season to The Massillon-Perry Panthers. For Canfield, they came into Tuesday night on a roll, winners of five straight while out-scoring their opponents 51-3 in those games!
One of the reasons for such a big run differential is thanks in part to junior Malena Toth! Becoming a master of the circle, Toth has, somehow, increased her strikeout production from a year ago and going through respectable and championship caliber programs while doing so! After fanning 17 against The West Branch Warriors and 14 against The Champion Flashes, Toth has shown an aura of dominance that is not to be messed with!
For The Knights, they have racked up a three-game winning streak, following the opening-day loss. Those wins came against impressive competition such as the likes of THe Louisville Leopards, Massillon-Jackson Polar Bears and The GlenOak Golden Eagles! Although Canfield vs. Hoban was not a conference matchup, it was set to be a statement win for either team and a momentum launchpad for the season!
Both Malena Toth and Faith Porter dueled through the first two innings, holding their opponents scoreless. Porter had a comebacker right to her glove that enabled her to get a 1-3 double play! Thwarting any hopes of early offense for The Cardinals. On the other side, Malena Toth started off impressively! The junior struck out five of the first six batters, including striking out the side in the first!
Canfield got the offense rolling in the third when they were able to get ducks on the pond before Jenna Triveri opened up the scoring with an RBI-single. Two batters later and The Cards would extend their lead when Marina Koenig found some outfield grass in right to plate two more and give Canfield the 3-0 lead in the third! Hoban threatened to respond in the bottom half of the inning when The Knights had the bases loaded and only one out. However, Toth reached down deep and registered back-to-back strikeouts to leave Hoban without a run.
Adding to their lead in the fifth, Canfield scored two more off a Malena Toth double, which extended The Cardinals lead 5-0. Toth was on cruise control in the circle, that was, until the seventh inning. Hoban would get three consecutive hits by Nylah Durham, Mya Akers and Gulia Scaglione to start the seventh! Scoring two in the inning, The Knights trailed by three with nobody out and a potential tying run on-deck. But as most great pitchers do, Toth found a way out of the jam. Getting a comebacker similar to the one that happened to Faith Porter in the first, allowed Canfield to get two outs for the price of one, retiring Mackenzie Wood and eliminating Akers off the base paths. Toth would force leadoff hitter Lacie Quarles to ground out to third, ending the game as a win for Canfield 5-2!
Both teams will be in-action again on Wednesday, April 5th. The Archbishop Hoban Knights are slated to take on The Ursuline Irish, while Canfield is set to square-off with perennial powerhouse, Walsh Jesuit! Interviews with Coach Kernan and Players of the Game Marina Koenig and Malena Toth can be found below!