AKRON — The first loss of the season for Medina’s softball team came with an asterisk, but it was a loss nonetheless.
Playing in a timed game at the Ohio Invitational on Saturday — teams played 80-minute contests — the Bees lost 3-1 to Westerville Central in five innings.
While Medina (7-1) managed just two hits, strategy was altered against the Warhawks (5-1), who scored three runs in the second inning and rode pitcher Paige McMenemy the rest of the way.
“You definitely have to jump out early,” Bees coach Jessica Toocheck said. “When you don’t, it could hurt you in the end, but as long as you’re scoring every inning, it shouldn’t matter.”
The problem for Medina was McMenemy (5-1) was on her game.
The right-hander with a full scholarship to Akron gave up back-to-back doubles to Madi Tata and Vanessa Scoarste in the first inning, but retired 14 of the final 15 batters.
“She was the best pitcher we’ve seen this year,” Scoarste said. “In Myrtle Beach, we didn’t have as much competition, but she was the best. She had speed and movement. That threw us off a little bit.
“Her riseball was really strong. As a hitter, it’s hard to see that because when it’s coming in it looks like it’s going to be a strike and then it rises and you slightly miss.”
Many of the Bees slightly missed, as McMenemy struck out six batters in a row at one point and finished with 11
Many of those strikeouts came because of the aforementioned solid riseball, as the right-hander changed levels all afternoon to keep Medina hitters off balance.
Tata drew a two-out walk in the third inning, but McMenemy ended the frame when Scoarste flew out to deep left.
“(McMenemy is) very solid,” Toocheck said. “She did what she was supposed to do: hit her spots and threw hard.”
Westerville Central did its damage thanks to back-to-back one-out singles by Ellyn Briggs and Anna Traini and a run-scoring sacrifice by Riley Brown, who reached on an error.
That chased Sami Holzman (0-1) from the game, but McMenemy greeted reliever Megan Paradise with a two-run single to put the Warhawks up for good.
While the bad news for the Bees is their dreams of an undefeated season are lost, the good news is there are still plenty of games left to right the wrong.
In fact, the loss is something Toocheck is hoping her squad builds from as it hopes to reach the regional level for the third season in a row.
“It’s definitely a reality check,” she said. “It shows you need to have your best game in all phases against everyone you play against. This is the competition we’ll see the rest of the year, so it was a good wakeup call.”
In another game:
NDCL 2 (6 innings)
AKRON — The Bees (7-1) showed some bounce back behind solid pitching from Paradise (7-0). The Lees-McRae pledge went the distance in the non-league game that ended because of time constraints. She allowed one earned run, walked three and struck out two.
Down one heading into the fifth inning, Medina plated two and added an insurance run in the sixth. Jessie Holzman (double, triple, RBI, run) wielded the big bat for the Bees, while Tata (double, RBI) and Scoarste (double, run) had big days as well.
Contact Brad Bourniva
Westerville Central 3, Medina 1 (5 inn.)
CENTRAL 030 00 — 3 5 0
MEDINA 100 00 — 1 2 1
Game called due to time constraints. WP — Paige McMenemy (5-1) 5 innings, earned run, 11 strikeouts. LP — Sami Holzman (0-1) 1⅓ innings, 3 runs, 2 earned, 3 hits, walk, 2 strikeouts. Westerville Central (5-1). Medina (6-1) — Madi Tata double; Vanessa Scoarste double.
Medina 4, NDCL 2 (6 inn.)
MEDINA 000 121 — 4 6 1
NDCL 001 100 — 2 5 1
Game called due to time constraints. WP — Megan Paradise (7-0) 6 innings, earned run, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts. LP — Lexi DeSilo (1-3) 6 innings, 4 earned runs, walk, 2 strikeouts. Medina (7-1) — Jessie Holzman double, triple; Tata double; Scoarste double. NDCL (1-3) — Kayleigh Cook 2 singles.