NORTON — One softball era ended and another began Thursday at the Barberton Division I District final.
Top-seeded Walsh Jesuit, which had one senior and six freshmen in its 10-player lineup, blanked No. 2 seed and tournament-tested Medina 5-0 behind hard-throwing junior Taylor Rahach.
The Bees (21-5) managed just two hits off Coastal Carolina recruit Rahach, who consistently hits 63 mph on the radar gun, but exited with a stellar four-year tourney run that saw them reach the district semifinals, state semifinals, regional finals and district finals.
“We set the bar high and started a new tradition,” four-year starting shortstop and KentState recruit Vanessa Scoarste said. “Hopefully, the young kids will continue the tradition.”
It won’t be easy with Walsh Jesuit (25-3) now in the district field. The Warriors reached the D-II state semifinals last season and lost seven seniors from that team, but may be better now — and even better in the future.
“They’re extremely good,” Bees four-year starting first baseman Madi Tata said. “Their pitcher is fantastic. It was very hard to get runs on them. Props to them. They’re very good, and they’re going to be very good for years to come.”
Medina senior Megan Paradise (17-3) battled throughout, giving up four earned runs, nine hits and six walks — three were intentional — while finding a way to work out of jams in every inning but the third.
Walsh Jesuit, which stranded 13 runners in six innings, took a 1-0 lead in the second when No. 5 hitter Madi McCrady hit a 1-2 changeup well over the center-field fence, then added three runs after Paradise retired the first two batters in the third.
McCrady started things with a walk and scored on a double by Rahach. Alexandra Drake singled to move Rahach to third, with Drake moving to second on the first pitch to McKenzi Gerry, who then blooped a two-run single to center to make it 4-0.
Walsh Jesuit added an unearned run in the sixth thanks to two errors and a pair of walks, the last with the bases loaded.
That was way more than enough for the diminutive Rahach, who walked one, hit a batter and struck out 11, including six straight at one point.
“She was very fast and she was hitting her spots,” Tata said. “She’s definitely the fastest we’ve seen. She’s very good.”
Scoarste got Medina’s first hit with one out in the first inning and eventually stole second, while sophomore Jessie Holzman doubled with two outs in the third. They were the only Bees to reach second base against Rahach, whose team played errorless ball behind her.
“She was definitely the best pitcher we’ve seen all year,” Scoarste said. “She throws hard.”
Having already earned a share of their first Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division title, Medina can win it outright today with a win at Mentor, but the postseason careers of Scoarste, Tata, Paradise and Sami Holzman came to an end with the loss to Walsh Jesuit.
“It’s been the best four years of my whole life, honestly,” Scoarste said. “It’s all about the memories.”
There will be plenty of those, including making the program’s first state tournament appearance in 2012.
“I’m very proud of my team making runs every year,” Tata said. “It shows we have a lot of fight. I think they’re going to do well in the future.”
Toocheck, who hugged all 16 of her players during the postgame awards ceremony, saved her longest embraces for her four 12th-graders.
“Our seniors have worked hard ever since they’ve been here,” the fourth-year coach said. “We wanted them to rebuild a tradition. They worked hard and set the bar high.”
|Thinking they may have been in remembrance of a deceased teammate, a reporter asked Rahach what the four initials on the left sleeve of Walsh Jesuit’s uniforms stood for. Turns out they represented a Latin phrase, which Rahach unsuccessfully tried to say before laughing and adding, “I don’t know. I’m not Catholic.”l The Bees intentionally walked Walsh Jesuit leadoff hitter Lilli Piper, who entered the game hitting .627, on three occasions, once with runners on first and second and two outs.
l The tournament was run by Whitey Prunty, the uncle of Wadsworth center and All-Gazette pick Kyle Prunty.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or email@example.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.
Walsh Jesuit 5, Medina 0
Barberton Division I District Final
Medina (21-5) Walsh Jesuit (25-3)
AB R H BI AB R H BI
JHolzman cf 3 0 1 0 Piper ss 1 0 0 0
Scoarste ss 3 0 1 0 Harbaugh 1b 3 0 0 0
Tata 1b 2 0 0 0 Stimson 2b 4 1 2 0
Rittenhouse c 3 0 0 0 Jones dp 3 0 0 0
SHolzman rf 3 0 0 0 McCrady rf 3 2 1 1
Paradise p 2 0 0 0 Rahach p 4 0 2 1
Becka lf 2 0 0 0 Drake 3b 3 1 1 0
Loftis 2b 2 0 0 0 Gerry lf 2 0 2 3
Rhodes 3b 2 0 0 0 Lawson c 4 0 1 0
Stack ph 1 0 0 0 Mullins cf 0 0 0 0
Solomon cr 0 0 0 0 Bobish ph 1 0 0 0
Huscraft cf 0 1 0 0
Totals 23 0 2 0 Totals 28 5 9 5
MEDINA 000 000 0 — 0 2 3
WALSH JESUIT 013 001 x — 5 9 0
LOB — Medina 4, Walsh Jesuit 13. E — Loftis 2, Rhodes. 2B — J. Holzman, Stimson, Rahach, Gerry. HR — McCrady. S — Gerry, Jones. SB — Scoarste.
IP H R ER BB SO
Paradise (L, 17-3) 6 9 5 4 6 2
Rahach (W, 18-2) 7 2 0 0 1 11
HBP — by Rahach (Becka).