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Lady Cards earn No. 1 seed in state tourney

To host sectional playoff against Bedford-Harding winner

May 4, 2017
By Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

A fantastic regular season by the Canfield High School softball team has earned it the No. 1 seed in the Solon District of the upcoming Division I state tournament.

The 13-3 Lady Cardinals will host the winner of the game between eighth-seeded Bedford and ninth-seeded Warren G. Harding May 10 in the sectional bracket final - an honor that is well deserved.

"These girls earned (the number one seed)," head coach Ray Melewski said.

Melewski's club does have some unfinished business before the tournament commences.

Canfield is 6-0 in the All-American Conference Red Tier, but it has 5-1 Boardman breathing down its neck.

A two-game showdown with the Lady Spartans is set to kick off next week with Tuesday's game at Boardman and Thursday's at home. Playing for a conference crown and starting the sectionals should make it a fun, yet challenging, three-day stretch for the Lady Cardinals.

Of course, these Canfield girls have been having a good time all season. They came home from a successful spring trip to Myrtle Beach as winners of four out of five games at the Grand Strand Softball Classic.

Since returning to cooler and wetter Ohio, the Cardinals have collected three consecutive victories inside the Red Tier.

On April 24 and 25, Canfield ended all hope that archrival Poland had of capturing a league crown.

The Cardinals clipped the Lady Bulldogs, 4-1, April 24 thanks to some sensational starting pitching by Bridgett Durkin. The senior slung a complete game, giving up just one unimportant run and striking out five.

Ally Sammarco and Kaili Gross gave Durkin all of the offensive support she would need with two hits and an RBI each.

Canfield completed the sweep of the Bulldogs in thrilling fashion one day later at Akron Firestone Park.

Senior Ally Lambert's walk off hit in the bottom of the eighth inning sent Poland home packing with a 5-4 loss in its back pocket.

Down 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth, the Cardinals came to life offensively and pushed four runs across.

An RBI fielder's choice by Maura Kennedy and an RBI single by Jill Baker were the key hits in that frame.

With their faint conference championship dreams hanging in the balance, the Bulldogs found the strength to score three times in the top of the seventh to send the game into extra innings.

Lambert's heroics an inning later made those hopes short-lived. Kalin Kovach and Savannah Maass both had two hits for Canfield. Durkin pitched all eight innings to get the well-earned win. She struck out eight Bulldog batters along the way.

It was freshman Gross who did the heavy lifting from the pitching circle in Canfield's 11-1 wipeout of Austintown Fitch on Friday. The ninth-grader held the Lady Falcons to one run on five hits over five innings to get the win. She also had an RBI double.

The true hitting star, however, for the Cardinals was Kovach. The sophomore smacked a pair of two-run home runs and had a double and three runs scored. Her double started the big offensive day for Canfield in the second inning. After that extra base hit, Kennedy tripled to bring Kovach home.

The first of Kovach's two round-trippers came in Canfield's six-run third inning. She then homered again an inning later.

The powerful way Kovach and all of her mates have been smacking the softball around lately has been impressive. In fact, Canfield piled up 40 runs in five games against some potent pitching in Myrtle Beach.

The offensive uprising has Melewski very excited for the rest of this season.

"We've been hitting the ball well," he said.

If those hits keep coming next week, Melewski and his tightly bonded group of girls will have Red Tier and sectional tournament banners to raise.



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