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Spartans end season at district final

Girls fall 4-2 to Cardinals

May 25, 2017
By Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

The Boardman and Canfield softball teams have had some grueling battles since the two schools became sisters in the All-American Conference Red Tier.

The pair of rivals may have staged their biggest showdown amy 17 in Solon. The prize that day was a Division I district championship.

Unfortunately for all of Spartan Nation, that trophy will be displayed in the halls of Canfield High School.

Article Photos

Town Crier photos / Jim McCreary
Senior pitcher Ashley Cornelius threw a complete game against Twinsburg, recording seven strike outs, giving up only five hits and recording a sectional semifinal win. The Spartans then advanced to play the Cardinals May 16 in the district semifinals at Solon Roxbury Field, where the local girls fell, 4-2. The Cardinals moved on to regional play Wednesday against Walsh Jesuit at University of Akron.

Thanks to shutout pitching for five innings, the Lady Cardinals were able to send the Lady Spartans packing from the state tournament with a 4-2 setback.

Canfield (21-4) advanced to regional play Wednesday against Walsh Jesuit (17-6) at University of Akron.

"It was a tough loss, but considering we started six underclassmen, this season would be considered a success," Boardman head coach Mike Trell said.

The first inning of the district final almost proved to be another huge success for the Spartans.

Boardman got runners on base and was ready to take the lead, but Lauren Gabriele was thrown out at the plate on an attempted score.

The momentum of that defensive play spurred the Cardinals to a big three-run bottom of the first.

Canfield kept that 3-0 lead into the sixth inning, when the Spartans finally pushed their first runs of the finals across the dish.

Ashley Cornelius reached base on an error and then scored when Alicia Saxton slapped a double. Saxton scored when Canfield's fielders made another defensive snafu. But those two tallies were it for Boardman the rest of the game.

However, Trell said, losing in the district championship did nothing to dispel how fine of a season it was for these Spartans.

In fact, the coach noted just how much joy he felt around his group when discussing the highlights of this campaign.

"This team was one of the most fun teams we have coached in my time at Boardman," he said. "The fun part was watching some of the younger girls grow and mature as players right before our eyes. With young players, sometimes you get mistakes, but you know as a coach that down the road it'll pay off."

With youngsters such as Saxton, Sarah Murray, Gloria Hynes, Paige Dill, Vanessa Roush, Brooke Hoffman, Emily Humphrey, Logan Menosky, Jenny Taraszewski, Ashley Saxton and Sara Aey to name a few, the Spartans should be set to challenge for another district crown in 2018.

The loss of seniors Gabriele, Cornelius and Lauren Pavlansky, however, will put a damper on Boardman's offseason.

"The team fought all year and with the three seniors' leadership, it dragged the younger players along for the ride," Trell said. "I didn't have to say much to (the seniors), because they all know how we feel about them. I have no idea how we can replace their leadership. Going forward, the best years of their lives are ahead of them and a loss to Canfield in the district finals doesn't define them."

What does define this trio is hard work and class. They were great role models and had high grade point averages, he said.

On the field, Cornelius started almost all of the Spartans' contests in the pitching circle. She set a career-high for strikeouts in a game with 12 in one of the matches played at Myrtle Beach earlier this season.

Gabriele hammered nine home runs, which was the most by a player in the Trell era at the school.

Pavlansky played flawlessly and perfected her sacrifice bunting, which is something a second-place hitter in softball should be great at doing.

"(Pavlansky) defined what being one of the best No. 2 hitters is," Trell said.

All three Spartan seniors made being the best a very simple thing to accomplish and will be missed greatly by everybody associated with the Boardman softball program.



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