AKRON — It took six Solon errors, an umpiring change and two extra innings to do it, but the Mentor softball team advanced to a regional final for the first time in school history Wednesday.
The Cardinals pushed across their third unearned run of the game on a ninth-inning throwing error to down Solon 3-2 in a University of Akron Division I Regional semifinal at Lee Jackson Field.
“They can make as many errors as they want,” Mentor interim coach Kate Adoryan said. “I’ll take the win. That’s what it’s about.”
The Cardinals (19-10) will play the winner of today’s semifinal between Medina and Austintown Fitch. If Medina wins, the final will be moved to 3 p.m. Saturday to accommodate commencement. If Fitch wins, it will remain at noon.
A number of Fitch players and coaches were on hand to watch the Solon-Mentor game, but Medina, which won the regional championship last year, chose to stay at home and practice.
Though Medina and Mentor are members of the Northeast Ohio Conference — the Bees are in the Valley Division and the Cardinals are in the River — they did not play this season.
Adoryan said she knew nothing about the Bees and would scout them and Fitch today, adding to what has already been an interesting two seasons for her.
A year ago, Mentor’s head coach resigned abruptly during the regular season and Adoryan took over for the rest of the season.
This year, Emily Strobel was in charge, but she got accidently hit in the head by a bat on April 20 and has been on medical leave from her teaching position, though she did take in the game Wednesday.
Once again, Adoryan took over.
“It’s definitely been interesting,” she said. “It’s a little bit of a challenge. As an assistant, I’m a little more their friend. As a head coach, I’m still compassionate, but sometimes it has to be, ‘This is how it goes.’”
It almost didn’t go anywhere in the Cardinals’ third meeting of the season with Solon (21-8).
Mentor, which swept the Comets in River Division play, fell behind 2-0 when the Comets got a double and two singles right off the bat against freshman Allison Golic (17-9).
One of the runs against Golic — she’s the cousin of former Browns nose tackle Bob Golic — was unearned thanks to an outfield throwing error, but the right-hander pitched like a veteran the rest of the way, giving up just four more hits and one walk while striking out 10.
“It feels amazing that we came and did this,” Golic said. “Oh, my God, I’m all shook up right now.
“I just focused on my pitches, because I had my team backing me up. It was all good.”
Mentor tied the game 2-2 in the fifth, which actually began with a pair of strikeouts.
Leadoff hitter Arial Birtley then walked and Jordan Kramer reached when Solon shortstop Kristen Confroy’s throw into the dirt forced first baseman Nicole Sobocinski to come off the bag.
Lake Erie College recruit Lindsey Valvoda then ripped a shot off the glove of Comets pitcher Sarah Maxson for an infield hit. Though Valvoda already had the play beat, Confroy, a Maryland basketball signee, threw wildly to first and Birtley and Kramer scored.
Solon, which got only one runner to second base after the first inning and none after the fourth, saw its season end in the bottom of the ninth.
Megan Massey opened with a single and No. 8 hitter Rachel Wallace was hit by a pitch. After swinging and missing at the first pitch, pinch-hitter Katie DeSanto put down a sacrifice bunt. When Solon third baseman Gabby Lucarelli threw wildly to first, pinch-runner Page Cimino scored the game-winning run.
Valvoda had two hits for Mentor, as did Markanne Causey and Massey.
The game was held up for several minutes prior to the bottom of the sixth when the home plate umpire became lightheaded. She eventually continued, but experienced the same problem again prior to the top of the eighth and was removed.
The first base ump went behind the plate and one of the men scheduled to work today’s game went and got his jersey and equipment to help on the bases, leading to an approximate 20-minute delay.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.