NORTH ROYALTON — Softball coaches use the final week of the regular season to see where their teams stand before the start of the games that really count.
Wadsworth heads into the Barberton Division I Sectional in four days in a state of flux after a 5-1 non-conference loss to North Royalton on Friday.
The week started with a loss to Suburban League champion Tallmadge and continued with two to Highland. A win over Nordonia brought hope, but back-to-back losses to Revere and the Bears have Grizzlies coach Michelle DeAngelis shaking her head.
“Hopefully this team finds a way to win,” said DeAngelis, who was somewhat speechless following the defeat. “We’ve got a game on Monday (against Revere) that hopefully is the turning point of our season.”
The game against North Royalton (9-11) was almost a microcosm of the last few weeks, as Wadsworth had to wait out a rain delay, got behind early and never found the resolve to come back.
The Grizzlies stumble into what could be the last week of their season with seven losses in eight games.
It’s a trend players like catcher Sam Ryan are trying to end as the sixth-seeded Grizzlies get ready to host eighth-seeded Brunswick to open postseason play.
“It’s focus in the beginning of the game,” Ryan said. “It was kind of hard today because we didn’t get a chance to warm up all that much. Toward the end of the game we started to get loose.”
North Royalton loaded the bases in the first, but it looked like Wadsworth was going to get out of the jam. A groundball back to the pitcher turned into a two-run error when Kim Crookston (3-5) sailed one over first.
In the second, a two-out error in the infield breathed new life into the Bears and they made the Grizzlies pay when Lauren Rockocy’s single to left scored Sami Minor and Kelsey Stoneberg.
“Our kids warm up hard,” DeAngelis said. “They go hard. They’re relaxed. It just seems like our team, instead of making one error a game, we choose one inning to make a lot of errors.”
Aside from a home run by Sami Minor, the Grizzlies played focused the rest of the game and picked up their lone run when Sarah Hoffman induced a bases-loaded walk.
The problem was, the early lead gave Haley Turske (3-4) all the momentum she needed, as the freshman right-hander made Wadsworth put the ball in play to beat her.
The Grizzlies managed just three hits through the first six innings before Julia Horton and Ryan hit back-to-back singles to start the seventh.
“We need to find the will to play,” Ryan said. “We all want to win bad. We just need to find it. It’s tough. They put up four runs early. It’s like, ‘Oh, they came to play. We need to show up, too.’”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.
North Royalton 5, Wadsworth 1
WADSWORTH 010 000 0 — 1 5 2
NORTH ROYALTON 220 100 x — 5 9 3
WP — Haley Turske (3-4) 7 innings, earned run, 2 walks, 3 walks. LP — Kim Crookston (3-5) 1⅔ innings, 4 runs, 0 earned, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts. Wadsworth (9-11) — Julia Horton single, double. North Royalton (9-11) — Sami Minor, single, home run, 2 runs; Lauren Rockocy 2 singles, 2 RBIs.