June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

Experience pays off for Blue Devils

Brunswick's Erin Calhoun tries to tag out Wadsworth's Hannah Rodgers in the bottom of the fourth inning. (JUDD SMERGLIA / GAZETTE)

Brunswick’s Erin Calhoun tries to tag out Wadsworth’s Hannah Rodgers in the bottom of the fourth inning. (JUDD SMERGLIA / GAZETTE)

Brad Bournival

The Gazette

WADSWORTH — Postseason softball is a different animal.

Brunswick knew it and showed it Friday in a 3-2 nine-inning win over Wadsworth to open the Barberton Division I Sectional.

For eighth-seeded Brunswick (11-11), it wasn’t as much about coming out on top against the sixth-seeded Grizzlies (9-13) as it was showing a different attitude.

The Blue Devils had been down this road before. Losers of nine one-run games and four extra-inning affairs this season, they walked into the final four innings looking for the win instead of expecting doom and gloom.

That victory came thanks to a base hit by Bri Bentler in the top of the ninth with nobody out to plate Kelly Szczepaniak.  

“We lost so many games by one run, so to win one felt good,” Bentler said. “It feels like we could go on farther. There’s a lot more momentum because we know we can win these.”

Brunswick travels to third-seeded Barberton (15-5) today in a 2 p.m. affair, but the win Friday showed the Blue Devils have the moxie to get things done in the clutch.

Trailing 2-1 and in danger of wasting a solid performance from Courtney Saville (9-8), Brunswick came to the plate in the top of the seventh just three outs away from another one-run loss.

That all changed when Molly Grzybowksi hit a no-doubt-about-it home run — her third of the season — over the center-field wall to tie things with one out. That not only raised the hopes of the Blue Devils, it kicked things into another gear.

“I could see our energy was more up,” Grzybowski said. “We believed in ourselves more. It was great to see we could win one of these games. It just made us better. We need to come out strong and start the energy high and know we can do it.”

The energy after her home run was almost palpable, as Saville retired seven of the next eight batters.

After a groundout to start the ninth, Wadsworth’s Kim Crookston reached on an infield single and Bailey Conrad was hit by a pitch. Saville settled in and got Cara Crookston to ground out before striking out Kelsie Wenger.

“There at the end of the game, I asked if she was OK and she said, ‘I’m great. I’m awesome,”’ Blue Devils coach Julie Salzman said. “She wants to be in that moment. She wants that. She’s a competitor. That’s only going to bring the team that much more into the game.”

That attitude is what Salzman is hoping continues as Brunswick travels to Barberton less than 24 hours after one of its biggest wins of the season.

The Magics fell out of the state coaches poll this week, but spent the majority of the time in it. The fact they had a day off and had a chance to scout the Blue Devils could work in their favor, though Brunswick made a strong point that it won’t just lay down to the higher seed.

“It’s a nice thing for the girls to feel, for the girls to know what it’s like to be on the other side as opposed to hanging your head and getting on a bus after losing another one by one,” Salzman said. “It’s something we can take into (today’s) game.”

Wadsworth lost four games in a row and nine of its last 10 to close the season. The Grizzlies also are losing Sam Ryan, Lauren Files, Bailey Conrad and Wenger to graduation. The good news is Grace Zarley (6-8) and Kim Crookston return to the circle and the team brings back a solid nucleus.

“It was a great game,” Grizzlies coach Michelle DeAngelis said. “I think our seniors have done a nice job and set the foundation for this program.”

Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.

Brunswick 3, Wadsworth 2 (9 inn.)

Barberton Division I Sectional Semifinal

Brunswick  (11-11)              Wadsworth (9-13)

                      AB   R   H  BI                            AB   R   H   BI

Salisbury 2b     5    1    0    0       Hibbard cf       4    0    1     0

Mulhan dp         4    0    0    0       Hoffman rf       4    1    1     0

Sherry 3b          4    0    2    0       Horton ss        3    1    1     0

E. Calhoun ss   4    0    1    1       Ryan c             4    0    2     0

J. Calhoun cf    3    0    0    0       Files                3    0    0     0

Saville p            4    0    1    0       Zarley              3    0    0     1

Payne rf            3    0    0    0       Conrad            3    0    0     0

Bentler 1b         4    0    2    1       C Crkston 3b  3    0    0     0

Grzybowski c   4    1    1    1       Wenger 2b      3    0    0     0

Boutwell ph       1    0    1    0       K Crkston pr   1    0    1     0

Szczpniak pr    0    1    0    0       Klatka pr          0    0    0     0

                                                    Blanknshp pr   0    0    0     0

                                                    Rodgers pr      0    0    0     0

Totals              36    3    8    3       Totals            31    2    6     1

BRUNSWICK             001 000 101  —      3      8      0

WADSWORTH          100 100 000  —      2      6      1

E — C. Crooskton. LOB — Brunswick 8, Wadsworth . 2B — Sherry, Hoffman. HR — Grzybowski (3). S— Mulhan, Files, Wenger.

                                               IP       H      R    ER    BB    SO


Saville (W, 9-8)                    9        6       2        2        2        9


Zarley (L, 6-8)                        9        8       3        3        2        6

WP — Saville. HBP — by Saville (Conrad). BK — Saville.