BRUNSWICK — When it comes to Medina’s softball team and playing in the rough-and-tumble Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division, Bees coach Jessica Toocheck is always pleading the fifth with her squad.
The way the former high school and college standout sees it, if Medina can put up a big fifth inning, the chances of the Bees coming out on top increase exponentially.
That played out Friday in a battle of Northeast Ohio heavyweights, as Medina went on the road and came home with a 5-3 victory over Brunswick.
“We try to make it a goal that our fifth inning is our biggest inning in trying to put runs on the board,” Toocheck said. “We said that before the huddle and they responded.”
While some of the scoring was aided by an error from the Blue Devils (4-2, 1-1), Medina (10-1, 2-0) was able to score three times in the frame, taking a 2-2 tie and turning things decidedly in favor of the green and white.
It started innocently enough when Caitlin Rhodes reached with a one-out base hit and Jessie Holzman followed with a walk. A sacrifice bunt by Amanda Holzman, who was in for an injured Madi Tata (hamstring issues), turned into an error and scored Rhodes.
Vanessa Scoarste and Morgan Rittenhouse followed with run-scoring singles and just like that the Bees were up big.
“Our coach tells us the fifth inning is the inning we need to come out and score,” Jessie Holzman said. “Usually that’s how we win games. This one means a lot. It’s a rivalry for one, but it’s big in the conference as well.”
It was also big in sending a message that the two-time reigning district champions aren’t going to go away easily.
The game was billed as a big-time pitching matchup as the best returning pitcher in the county, Medina’s Megan Paradise, was facing the best newcomer in the area in Brunswick’s Courtney Saville.
That really didn’t come to fruition, as each pitcher gave up seven hits. The runs weren’t entirely the hurlers’ doing, though, as a combined six errors made for a sloppy game.
Paradise (10-0) picked up the win with four strikeouts, though it should be noted only one of her runs was earned. What the right-hander was able to do, however, was settle in a bit after being afforded the big cushion in the fifth.
“Any time we can get runs across, it’s always helpful,” Paradise said. “My team always has my back when it comes to games like this. They have great bats and great defense. We all work well together.”
That seemed to be tough for Brunswick, as two of the three gaffes in the field came back to haunt the Blue Devils. The line for Saville (4-2) wasn’t much different with three strikeouts and two walks, but only two of the five runs she gave up were earned.
“You can’t make those mistakes,” Brunswick coach Julie Salzman said. “When a hard hit ball comes to you, you have to know where to go. It’s stuff we work on all day in practice. For whatever reason, we have mental breakdowns. You can’t have mental breakdowns against a team like this.”
The bad news for the Blue Devils, who got big games from Paige Salisbury (2 singles, run) and Jess Calhoun (2 singles, 2 runs), is every loss counts in the Valley Division. The good news is, there is plenty of time to make up for a single league defeat.
“We store this in the back of our mind, especially because it’s Medina,” Calhoun said. “They’re our rivals and we wanted to do the best we could. I don’t know if it was nervousness, but we need to learn from this game.
“We need to learn from it, but not dwell on it because there are other games. We need to remember what’s important as far as fundamentals go and play without the errors next time.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.
Medina 5, Brunswick 3
Northeast Ohio Conference
MEDINA 101 030 0 – 5 7 3
BRUNSWICK 011 001 0 – 3 7 3
WP — Megan Paradise (10-0) 7 innings 3 runs, 1 earned, 4 strikeouts. LP — Courtney Saville (4-2) 7 innings, 5 runs, 2 earned, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts. Medina (10-1, 2-0) — Jessie Holzman single, triple, 3 runs; Vanessa Scoarste 2 singles. Brunswick (4-2, 1-1) — Paige Salisbury 2 singles, run; Jess Calhoun 2 singles, 2 runs.