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Boardman using entire roster to make a strong tournament run

May 1, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Two consecutive wins at the Grand Slam tournament at Akron's Firestone Park has put the Boardman softball team in a good place as the regular season starts to wind down.

Boardman's girls edged both Akron Hoban and Central Crossing to bring home the two victories from Firestone. That sweep came on the heels of two straight setbacks to Poland and Newton Falls. Bouncing back so nicely was impressive because of the amount of younger girls Boardman head coach Fred Mootz has put on the field lately. The first-year coach recognized that starting six underclassmen and three freshmen should make the inconsistency expected. He would not use it as an excuse though.

"We've been a bit streaky at times, but I believe part of it is the fact we've put a lot of young girls in tough situations," said Mootz. "Our senior core has been a huge impact in leading these young girls."

One of the seniors who has been leading the Lady Spartans is pitcher Jen Taraszewski. The senior slinger shut down Central Crossing with a complete game, three-hitter. Boardman beat the Division I school from Grove City, Ohio 3-2 on April 26. A two-run first inning gave Boardman an early lead. It stretched that lead to 3-1 in the fourth and hung on the rest of the contest. Senior Alicia Saxton had an RBI triple for the Spartans. Junior Lauren Maughan had an RBI hit.

Taraszewski was almost as terrific in a hard fought 4-3 loss at Newton Falls two days earlier. Once again, the senior went the distance giving up 0 earned runs and just six hits. Saxton and Madison Lester both hit home runs in the losing effort.

Speaking of Lester, the fantastic freshman started games against Ashtabula Lakeside and Hoban recently and continued her hot rookie campaign. Lester blanked Lakeside 10-0 on April 22 in a near perfect performance. She gave up just one hit in the shutout and struck out 16 Lady Dragons. Meanwhile, she was amazing at the plate as well, going 2 for 3 with a double and two runs batted in.

"Lester was dominant," said Mootz about her pitching display.

The unfortunate Dragon hitters had to combat Lester again in the second game and didn't do much better than they did in their first try. This time, Lester fanned 12 and sat back and enjoyed an offensive onslaught as the Spartans spanked the Dragons 19-5. The combination of Taraszewski and Lester has been easy for Mootz to call upon all year.

"I feel pretty good about how well we have pitched the past few games," Mootz said. "Jen Taraszewski is coming off back to back strong pitching performances and freshman Madison Lester has been really impressive as well. She's grown up really fast in the circle."

Another ninth-grader, Dana Haus, has been hitting the ball with authority the past few weeks. She went 4 for 6 in the second game with Lakeside. Lester also had a huge offensive game going 3 for 4 with a triple, a double and five ribbies. Freshman Nadia Rawneh was 3 for 4 with two knocked in. Fellow frosh Jenna Olexa was also 3 for 4 with a double. She has been seeing plenty of varsity time in Mootz's lineup as has Haus.

"Olexa and Haus are two other freshmen who I lean on a ton," Mootz said.

True to the coach's words, it was Olexa who paced the 9-7 win over Hoban going 3 for 4 with two runs. Ashley Saxton slammed a triple. Sophomore Nina Scavelli had two RBI's. Maughan and sophomore Kathryn O'Horo each had a ribbie. O'Horo pitched the seventh inning in relief of Lester to earn a save.

The Spartans pushed Poland to the limit before succumbing 8-7. In fact, Mootz's girls held a 6-5 lead over the unbeaten Lady Bulldogs entering the final inning. Poland's pride then must have kicked in as it came from behind to score 3 runs. It was a loss like that, however, that may have said more about the Spartans than any of their recent wins. With two tough games against Warren Harding and matches with Steubenville and Cardinal Mooney still on the schedule, Mootz will take all of the good vibes he can get. He realizes the state playoffs are right around the corner too.

"This next week will determine a lot for my club," said Mootz this past Sunday. "We have emphasized all season long that the ultimate goal is to bring home the hardware. I feel confident my girls will put on a great fight."



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