MEDINA — A day that started off as a close encounter for a talented Medina softball team quickly turned into a comfortable win against a determined Firestone team.
In the end, the top-seeded Bees used a fifth-inning explosion to send the Falcons packing with a 9-1 victory in a Barberton Division I Sectional final.
Medina (19-6) advances to face Barberton or Ellet in a district semifinal Tuesday at Barberton. Akron City Series champion Firestone, which is 2-13 in non-league games, fell to 11-14.
Through four innings, the Bees couldn’t get their bats working against a steady flow of fastballs from Kristen Kearns. With Medina spraying five hits at inopportune times, the Falcons made the most of their four hits to remain deadlocked at 1 through 4½ innings.
Then came the spark.
Right fielder Sami Holzman, batting from the nine spot, decided it was time to turn the game around. Sitting on a full count, Holzman (3-for-3) ripped a Skearns fastball down the left-field line for a triple.
Seven more hits, an error and a hit batter led to eight runs.
“Their pitcher was doing a great job and we weren’t getting any hits until the fifth inning,” Bees coach Jessica Toochek said. “Sami came up big, and our team is usually contagious in our hitting.”
“It felt really good to get my team started,” Holzman said. “We really needed to get some hits to get us going.”
Jen Sansonette added to the onslaught with one of her two doubles.
“We weren’t hitting too well, so we wanted to make sure we showed them what we were capable of,” she said.
Medina starter Megan Paradise struggled to find the edge in the early stages. With the assistance of catcher Maria Vanadia, she soon discovered Firestone was struggling to hit her changeups. What followed were a series of awkward strikeouts and casual groundballs as the Falcons struggled the rest of the way.
“There are days when my changeup works and days when it doesn’t based upon how much a team works on hitting them,” Paradise said. “Once my catcher, Maria, saw that they were struggling to hit my changeup, we decided to throw more.”
“Maria calls the entire game, every single pitch,” Toocheck added. “She does a great job behind the plate and has great softball awareness.”
Paradise finished each of her final three innings by setting down the Falcons in order, including registering five of her eight strikeouts over the final nine batters.
“Megan has been trying to stay ahead in her counts and away from walks, and when she’s able to do that like today and rely on her defense, good things typically follow,” Toochek said.
All players from Medina got into the game, and 11 players got a hit as the Bees banged out 15 on the afternoon.
Contact Richard Doyle at email@example.com.