FINDLAY — Three games in three days for the Mohawk softball team has led to an impressive trio of wins. The first began with a league title and the third resulted in a Division IV district championship as the Warriors defeated North Baltimore, 8-1, at Findlay High School on Friday.
Mohawk jumped on the Tigers early, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
“It worked being the visitors (Friday),” Warriors coach Jenny Weinandy said. “To be able to set the tone early in the game was huge, especially in the district finals, and I think it gave us more confidence up at the plate and we were able to relax more.”
In what has seemed more like a Midland Athletic League tournament rather than a state bracket, the Warriors face conference foe Fremont St. Joseph at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Findlay High School in the regional semifinals. The Crimson Streaks defeated Lakota, 2-0, on Friday.
Sarah Runion led off the game with a single to left and moved to third base on a stolen base and shortstop error. Two batters later, Taylor McClain drove her in with a double.
“They came out of the shoot and hit the ball and put a runner across the board in the first inning,” North Baltimore coach Frankie Hernandez said. “We held them, but then we just kind of relaxed. We kept trying to fight, but I guess it just wasn’t enough.”
Runion reached base again in the third inning on another error by the shortstop. Ashley Cooper stepped up next and sent a long fly ball the opposite way to left field. The ball hit the top of the fence and came back in play, allowing Runion to easily score and Cooper to record a triple.
“That really got me pumped up knowing that it put some extra padding on the scoreboard and I felt safer after that,” Cooper said. “We kept hitting really well from there one and everyone else was there for me to rely on.”
Still 2-0 after four innings, Cooper and the Warriors won a mind game with the Tigers, leading to another run.
With Makenzie Sowers on third base via a Runion sacrifice bunt and one out, Cooper walked, but did not stop at first base. Rather, she continued running to second and Sowers remained off third base. The Tigers threw over to third, but the ball got away, allowing Sowers to score and Cooper to move to third.
“When that play happened, it did change the momentum and (our) heads and shoulders dropped,” Hernandez said.
Mohawk pushed the lead to 4-0 in the sixth inning when Nikki Kieffer reached on an error by the Tigers’ right fielder, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on a Clara Adelsperger single with two outs.
“I could rely on any one of my players to hit, slap or bunt,” Weinandy said. “We have a lot of weapons at the plate and I’m glad I’m able to go to them for that.”
North Baltimore responded with a rally of its own in the bottom of the frame as Kelsey Gazarek and Megan Wright reached base with no outs. However, the Tigers did not advance them any farther as Gazarek was forced out at third base on a grounder and Kasey Adelsperger got the following two batters to pop out to herself and second base, respectively.
“She hit her spots very well,” Hernandez said. “Being a sophomore, we’re going to see her a (couple) more years. We tried putting the ball in play, but it was just to somebody.”
Adelsperger (18-4) picked up the win as she held the Tigers to four hits and a walk, while striking out eight.
After winning 5-1 against New Riegel in the district semifinals, North Baltimore pitcher Jessica Frost was roughed up again by the (Continued on page 12)
Warriors in the seventh inning as Kasey Adelsperger, Dani Tyree, Kieffer and Molli Cartwright each crossed the plate.
Allie Baker scored the Tigers only run of the game in the bottom of the seventh on a Gazerek double, but it was too little too late as Mohawk could already envision the trip to regionals.
“It’s my second (district title) this year as volleyball was my first,” Cartwright said. “It’s starting to feel good and it gives you a little bit of an edge and you get that confidence like you really can go far. Everyone keeps stepping up when they need to. If someone else is playing bad, we have someone else who can step up and play well that day. We’re all a team and we mesh really well together and we’re coming together and becoming even stronger.”
Before the Warriors received their trophies though, North Baltimore presented everyone on the team with cards, flowers and a balloon, which were released as both teams formed a circle on the diamond. Mohawk senior classmate Audrey Perkins died in an auto accident Tuesday morning.
“Their thoughts and gifts after the game is pure sportsmanship when they lose, but are still sympathetic to our loss of a classmate,” Weinandy said. “North Baltimore has a lot of class.”
“It means a lot,” Cartwright, a senior, said. “We know we’re not the only ones affected by this and we have everyone’s support behind us. Audrey touched so many people that she probably doesn’t even realize it, but she’s looking down on us and she’s probably really proud of us as she sees how much everyone cares. This means a lot that we have the support of other teams.”
Score by innings
Mohawk 101 011 4 — 8 7 1
North Baltimore 000 000 1 — 1 4 4
WP: Adelsperger (18-4); LP: Frost (17-10).
2B: McClain (M), Kieffer (M), Brian (NB).
3B: Cooper (M).
By PATRICK MASSARA