Clippers march into district final
BERLIN CENTER–An experienced Columbiana Clipper softball team has an edge during this tournament as it rolled to a 10-0 win in six innings over Canton Central Catholic in the Div. IV district semifinals on Tuesday at Western Reserve.
“Any game could be my last game,” Columbiana senior Marisa McDonough said. “It drives you more going into these tournament games knowing it could be your last.”
McDonough made sure this game counted as she held Crusader batters to just one hit and had seven strikeouts on the mound for the Clippers.
“Our senior bond and leadership seems like it is pushing us to go farther in this tournament,” McDonough said.
Columbiana’s roster features seven seniors and three juniors.
“This moment shouldn’t be too big for us,” Columbiana coach Jerry Beltempo said. “This group has won a lot of games over the past three years so I think Marisa will come out and throw well (today).”
Columbiana (18-6) will now meet the top-seeded East Canton for the Div. IV district crown at 5 p.m. today.
East Canton won the first sectional of the day 11-3 over Western Reserve.
“We’ll have to get the bats going tomorrow,” Beltempo said. “Our bats have been our Achilles heel this season. Hitting sometimes we have struggled so hopefully we can keep it up.”
The Columbiana offense wasn’t quiet early as McDonough smacked a two-run home run to left field to give the Clippers an early 3-0 lead. Columbiana’s Taylor Ross scored on a double steal attempt when Alexis Cross was called out at second to get the first run.
The Crusaders intentionally walked McDonough the next two at bats.
“Hitting wise that home run was big,” Beltempo said. “It made them afraid to pitch to her and she’s been hitting the ball pretty well all season.”
Cross added a two run single in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Clippers a 9-0 lead.
Morgan Highley’s sac fly to center field brought Ross in to force the ten run rule and end the game for the Clippers.
Ross finished the game with three runs for Columbiana.
“We were patient at the plate today and we picked our spots,” Beltempo said. “Anytime you can get out of a district semifinal and run rule a team that’s pretty good.”
Canton Central Catholic pitcher Erin Krupar gave up eight walks.
Columbiana’s Alyssa Tohm had an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning. Maci Linhart had an RBI double that she tried to stretch into a triple unsuccessfully to score Amanda Mellott in the bottom of the fourth.
“We keep getting better every game it feels like,” McDonough said.
Canton Central Catholic’s lone hit was a single by Raegan Rowland in the first inning.
–Columbiana is back playing in the Div. IV tournament after several years at the Div. III level.
“It’s a lot of playing against new teams,” McDonough said. “We’ve never played Canton Central Catholic or East Canton before so it gives you a look at new teams.”
“Coming down I have a little bit of higher aspirations coming in,” Beltempo said. “We are definitely a Division IV team.”
C–Marisa McDonough, wp (6IP, 7K, 1BB) and Gabrielle Herdman
CC–Erin Krupar, lp (5 1/3IP, 4K, 8BB) and Olivia Diruzza