It happened over 300 days ago, but Alli Beery remembers it right down to the stitch on the softball.
Cruising along against Brunswick – like she had all postseason – the left-hander looked ready to send her Wadsworth Grizzlies into extra innings in a Barberton Division I District semifinal.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, disaster struck as Sammie Lehnecker, Lauren Bolton and Alexa Reis loaded the bases.
Up stepped Gazette MVP McKenna Galloway with a shot that looked more like a duck snort than a game-winning hit.
The ball landed just beyond second base, rolled to the outfield and the Blue Devils advanced to the finals with a 2-1 victory.
“Honestly, I can tell you everything from that game,” Beery said. “I’d like to play Brunswick again. I think about that game every day at practice. It’s all I’ve thought about since last season.
“That’s why I work so hard. I want to beat Brunswick. Obviously, it was a district semifinal, but it was McKenna. We have always been competitive. I don’t like losing, especially to her. I want to come back.”
Motivation comes from all sorts of places and Beery is never short in finding a reason to beat the odds.
Already a University of Toledo recruit, the Wadsworth senior comes into the season after leading Medina County in earned run average (0.76) last year, while finishing in the top five in wins (10), strikeouts (119) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (11.83).
In the postseason she shined brightest, pitching 172/3 straight innings without allowing an earned run. Included in that was a no-hitter against Medina.
The numbers speak from themselves but what comes from Beery’s heart is unparalleled.
“I feel like it’s my personality,” Beery said. “It’s who I am. I do feel like the girls look up to me. I’m the one motivated, the one who is hard-working. I want them to look up to me and I want to lead them far.
“The motivation definitely comes from my dad. He’s the most competitive person I know. I’d like to say I’m a lot like him. He’s always told me that losing isn’t really OK. He’s made me hate it. This year, it’s more the fact I don’t want to let my team down.”
Based on her performance last season, it’s a good bet she won’t.
Sharing No. 1 duties with Stacey Ladd as a sophomore, Beery was set to share the role again. But when arm troubles plagued Ladd in 2010, Beery stepped up and hasn’t let off the riseball yet.
Then again, she hasn’t let off the fastball, change-up, curveball or screwball, either.
To have those five pitches and be such a leader is rare. Throw in the fact, she’s left-handed and it makes for a very unique situation.
“No one has ever been close to putting a team on her back and carrying them like she did last year in the playoffs,” Wadsworth coach Mike Schmeltzer said. “She had all the confidence in the world.
Her pitching has always been there, it’s that attitude, that confidence that she’s the No. 1.
“She has that edge that a lot of kids don’t have. She hates to lose. She takes responsibility if she’s on the hill. She could care less if there’s an error, she takes it. That drives her to be a better player. I hate to use that cliché, she wants that ball, but she wants to be there.”
By the time Beery walks out the doors of Wadsworth, she could be one of the best to ever put on a Grizzlies uniform.
That’s not coach speak as she can uncork all five of her pitches at any time.
Her go-to pitch is her curveball, but she has unparalleled accuracy with incredible control and effectiveness.
“She looks forward to playing at the next level,” Schmeltzer said. “But I’ll tell you what, with the right support she can set a lot of records this year. She can be one of the most dominating pitchers in Northeast Ohio. If the stars align right, really good things can happen for the kids.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.