June 27, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Softball: Medina’s Madi Tata finds her field of dreams

AKRON — Medina’s Madi Tata loves Lee Jackson Field.

The junior first baseman went 4-for-4 with three runs batted in and two runs scored Thursday to lead the Bees to a 5-3 victory over Austintown Fitch in a University of Akron Division I Regional semifinal.

“I love this time of year,” Tata said. “I get excited. It’s the playoffs. It’s do or die.”

Medina’s Madi Tata slides into third base under the tag of Austintown Fitch’s Nicholette Zordich in the top of the second inning. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JUDD SMERGLIA)

Tata did against the Falcons, delivering a two-run single in the first inning, a run-scoring triple in the second and bunt singles in the fifth and seventh. She came around to score in her first and last at-bats as the Bees (23-7) eliminated the Falcons (20-9).

“I felt great,” the left-handed hitter said. “I’ve been working on my swing all week with my dad. I felt it today.”

Tata also excelled at Lee Jackson Field a year ago, helping Medina defeat Aurora and Brecksville in regional action to earn its first state tournament berth.

The Bees will attempt to make it to the state tournament for the second time in as many years when they play Mentor for a regional championship Saturday at 3 p.m. at Lee Jackson Field.

If Tata comes up with yet another big offensive performance on the University of Akron’s cozy home field, the Zips might want to consider giving her a college scholarship when she graduates in 2014. Of course, there’s always the possibility she could be back at Lee Jackson Field with the Bees again next year.

“Madi’s a great hitter,” said Medina coach Jessica Toocheck, who played for Kent State, Akron’s No. 1 rival. “She thrives in clutch situations. She likes to be under pressure. That’s when she has her best at-bats.”

Tata doesn’t have many bad at-bats, period.

Her 4-for-4 day upped her team-high average to .489. The All-Gazette choice also has a team-best .591 on-base percentage, a .638 slugging percentage, 35 runs scored, 27 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.

“I have complete confidence in her,” Medina pitcher Megan Paradise said. “More importantly, she has confidence in herself. That helps a lot.

“How would I pitch to her? I don’t know. She’s such a good hitter I’d probably try to mix it up on her, throw inside and outside and use changeups. But she’s such a good hitter, it might not matter.”

Fitch freshman Alex Franken never found the answer.

Her first time up, Tata singled to the opposite field to score Vanessa Scoarste and Jessie Holzman, giving Medina a 2-0 lead just three batters into the game.

In the second inning, Tata again went the opposite way, but this time drove the ball over the head of left fielder Christiana Savo for a triple that plated Holzman.

In her next two at-bats, Tata bunted for base hits, beating throws from catcher Mercedes Pratt on both occasions.

What approach she’ll bring to the plate in her first at-bat against Mentor on Saturday remains to be seen, but everything seems to be working for Tata at Lee Jackson Field.

“I’m seeing the ball great and I’m making great contact,” she said. “That’s all you can ask for.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.