BARBERTON — It took eight days, two trips to Brecksville, and one bus ride to Barberton, but Medina’s softball team finally reached the second round of the OHSAA Tournament.
Speedy sophomore Kylee Ensign scored the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice in the top of the fifth inning Thursday, propelling Medina to a 4-1 victory over Brecksville in a Barberton Division I Sectional opener.
The win moves Medina (9-14) into the sectional finals today at Brunswick, where it will face the Blue Devils for the third time this spring. Brecksville fell to 12-7.
“Today was such a beautiful day and everyone really came out ready to play,” said Bees coach Jessica Toocheck, whose squad was scheduled to open the postseason at Brecksville on May 12 — only to have rain repeatedly postpone the game and ultimately move it to the Barberton Sports Complex.
“We didn’t want to have a week off, but we made sure that we used the time wisely. It seemed to work because the girls were more relaxed than usual out there.”
With one out in the fifth and the score tied at 1, Medina’s Jen Sansonette hit a high chopper to Brecksville shortstop Christina Paffilas, who immediately came home with the throw.
Ensign, however, easily beat the ball to the plate to give her club a 2-1 advantage.
Medina’s lead grew to 3-1 one batter later when Stephanie Cunningham’s grounder to short scored Vanessa Scoarste, which was all the offense that Bees reliever Bobbi Langlois needed to notch her fifth win of the campaign.
“Today was so much fun to be a part of,” Ensign said. “It was such an important game and we knew we had to play well. It was really exciting and we got the job done as a team.”
Senior pitcher Karli Greene got the start for Medina, but ran into trouble in the bottom of the third as she tried to protect a 1-0 lead.
When Brecksville put runners on second and third with one out in the frame, Toocheck called on Langlois. The junior hurler promptly gave up a smash to right by Andie Bonamer, scoring Kristen Lang, but was bailed out just seconds later.
After fielding Bonamer’s hit, Medina right fielder Alexis Lee gunned down Jen Kalinsky at home plate. Catcher Maria Vanadia made the tag, then caught Bonamer trying to advance to second and fired to Scoarste to complete the bizarre double play.
“I know I have a great team behind me, ready to make plays if they had to,” said Langlois, who tossed 4 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, striking out two. “Alexis and Maria made great throws to get us out of the inning.”
Sansonette, a third baseman, tacked on an insurance run for Medina in the seventh when she singled home Scoarste. It was Sansonette’s second hit and third RBI of the contest, and concluded the scoring at 4-1.
Medina had taken a 1-0 lead in the third when Ensign led off with a walk and came around on Sansonette’s single through the left side of the infield.
Scoarste also had two hits for Medina, while Ensign, Langlois, Lee, Abby Knechtel, and Haley Jividen had one apiece.
Greene went the first 2 1/3 innings, giving up three hits and one walk while striking out two. Medina’s pitchers only allowed consecutive batters to reach base once (in the third).
Alexsandria Radjen had a single, double and stolen base for Brecksville, but took the loss. She allowed eight hits, four earned runs, two walks and two wild pitches while striking out three.
“Coming in, we talked about having Karli get through their batting order once, then having Bobbi come in because they’re very different pitchers,” Toocheck explained. “They executed the plan nicely, as did all the girls. It was a whole team effort.”
Just minutes before Medina and Brecksville took the field, Highland’s softball team arrived at the Barberton Sports Complex.
The Hornets were expecting to play Wadsworth in their district semifinal, but were unaware that the game has been postponed until Saturday morning at 11:30. They did not stick around to watch the battle of the Bees.
The second district semifinal, pitting Copley against Brunswick or Medina, is slated to be played simultaneously with the Highland/Wadsworth contest at an adjacent field.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.