November 24, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
54°F

Softball: Grizzlies win nail-biting games

By Ho Hoffman

WADSWORTH — Wadsworth played the drama card Saturday.

Twice.

Wadsworth’s Niki Weaver is mobbed by her teammates after hitting a walk-off RBI single in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader vs. Medina. Below, the Grizzlies Emily Blankenship slaps a tag on the Bees’ Vanessa Scoarste at third base. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JUDD SMERGLIA)

Wadsworth’s Niki Weaver is mobbed by her teammates after hitting a walk-off RBI single in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader vs. Medina. Below, the Grizzlies Emily Blankenship slaps a tag on the Bees’ Vanessa Scoarste at third base. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JUDD SMERGLIA)

The Grizzlies’ softball team busted out the brooms Saturday, beating Medina County rival Medina 3-2 and 4-3 with a pair of late rallies.

“Those were two great softball games,” said Wadsworth coach Mike Schmeltzer Sr., whose team improved to 18-4. “They were both nail-biters right down to the final plays and could have gone either way. We were really fortunate to take both games.”

For Medina coach Jessica Toocheck, it was an all too familiar story.

“That has been our season,” she said. “We play great for six innings, making great plays both offensively and defensively, and then all of a sudden we let the game get away from us.”

In the first game, the Bees (7-11) wasted a fine four-hit performance from Bobbi Langlois (3-9) when Wadsworth rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh.

The Grizzlies used an Alli Beery walk and an RBI double from Sam Ryan to plate the first run.

Anna Anderson reached on a fielder’s choice as Ryan held second, but both moved up a base when Hannah Gibson grounded out to second baseman Stephanie Cunningham for the first out.

Emily Blankenship’s delayed squeeze bunt brought home Ryan to tie the game when Medina catcher Chelsea Obrzut failed to hold the throw from first baseman Abby Knechtel, and Niki Weaver finished the rally with her only hit of the day, connecting on a 1-2 pitch that she sent over the left fielder’s head for the game-winner.

“I was just looking for a ball I could drive, not any particular pitch,” Weaver said. “I was really happy to get the big hit and beat Medina because they are so good in all sports it just feels good to beat them because they are so good.”

Medina took the lead in the third inning when Vanessa Scoarste hit a one-out triple to score Lauren Peak and Kylee Ensign. Beery (9-4) sparkled after that and retired 14 of the final 15 batters, with the only runner reaching on an error.

“Alli really settled down after the third inning and didn’t give Medina anything good to hit,” Gibson said. “Both Alli and Sam (Weaver) were tough to hit today. Neither go for strikeouts. They just let our defense make the plays.”

Defensive plays were the story for Wadsworth in the second game, as they kept coming up with big play after big play. Blankenship led the glove brigade with five assists and two put-outs, but right fielder Kelly Snodgrass made two of the biggest plays in the second inning.

With one out and Medina trailing 2-0, Knechtel worked Weaver (9-0) for a walk and Cunningham followed with a single. Bees pitcher Karli Greene (4-2) ripped what looked like a sure hit on a line drive to right, but Snodgrass took the ball on the first hop and fired a strike to first base to retire Greene.

Next up was Haley Jividen, who laced a drive close to the right field line in fair territory. Snodgrass raced back and made an over-the-shoulder catch to retire the side.

“I knew if I could come up clean with that first line drive I could make a good throw to first and get the runner,” said Snodgrass, a converted third baseman. “On the fly ball, I got a good jump and saw it off the bat and knew I could track it down.”

Medina kept threatening Sam Weaver, collecting eight hits, a walk and forcing four errors before finally hitting the scoreboard in the sixth inning.

Scoarste started it with a double and Jen Sansonette (4 hits) brought her home with a single.

After Weaver got the next two outs, Greene doubled to score Cunningham, who had reached on a fielder’s choice. A single by Jividen gave Medina a 3-2 lead as Greene raced home.
The lead was short-lived.

In the next half inning, Horton reached after being nicked by a Greene pitch. Beery kept it going with a single and Ryan walked to load the bases. Anderson fouled off six pitches with a two-strike count and hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring home Horton.

Gibson single put the Grizzlies back on top 4-3 with a sharp single to score Horton.

“I was just looking for any pitch to hit,” Gibson said, “I had an opportunity to get the big hit and I was really concentrating on getting it.”

Wadsworth still wasn’t out of the woods, as Medina gave it one last shot. Ensign opened the seventh inning by reaching on an error and made it to third, aided by Alexis Lee’s sacrifice.

With Scoarste batting, Ensign tried to score from third on contact on a groundball to first baseman Beery, but was an easy out at home when Horton blocked the plate.

Medina later loaded the bases when Sansonette singled and Knechtel reached on an error, but Beery snagged a line drive down the line from Cunningham to end the game.

“This really was a big win for us,” Schmeltzer said. “This is a huge rivalry and it usually results in a split, so to sweep the doubleheader against a well-coached and quality team like Medina should give us a lot of confidence heading into the final weeks of Suburban League and sectional tournament play.”

Contact Ho Hoffman at sports@medina-gazette.com.