BUCYRUS — Keystone winning another regional championship is hardly surprising, after all, the Wildcats are set to make their 15th trip to the state tournament.
What made Sunday’s win one for the ages was the way Keystone so thoroughly dominated Maumee in the Division II regional final at Bucyrus High School.
Lauren Shaw pitched her fourth no-hitter of the season and hit two of the Wildcats’ five home runs in an 11-0, five-inning demolition.
Senior shortstop Summer Constable also hit two home runs for second-ranked Keystone (27-4), which will face Hamilton Ross (24-7) in a state semifinal Friday at 10 a.m. at Akron’s Firestone Stadium.
Constable pulled off the rare feat of hitting home runs in the Wildcats’ first at-bat and their final at-bat. She led off the bottom of the first with a blast, then ended the game with a two-run shot that sailed over the center-field fence to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.
“We came out guns ablazing and I was leading the pack,” Constable said. “It’s been exciting to see our hard work coming through. I know we work harder than any other team in Ohio.”
Constable’s first home run came with some controversy. After the ball sailed over the 202-foot sign in right field the home plate umpire came out and signaled home run while the first base umpire threw up his hands to signal a foul ball. After a discussion among all three umpires, the home run call was allowed to stand.
“I was pretty disappointed if they were going to take that away from me but I was ready to come back up and hit another one because that’s just how I am,” Constable said. “It’s pretty satisfactory that we can come out here and hit some bombs. It’s pretty exciting for us, for our fans, for the parents. Hitting the ball is fun.”
Shaw got in on that fun later in the first inning with a three-run home run to center. An inning later she hit a two-run homer to nearly the same spot. She also doubled in her final at-bat to finish the day 3-for-3.
The Wildcats were up 4-0 after the first, then added two runs in every inning except the third when they scored just one.
“It feels amazing right now,” Shaw said. “I’m really excited to go back to state. I was just feeling it today. Pitchers don’t usually throw me inside and she threw that first one inside and that’s my favorite pitch to hit. Second time she threw me outside and I like those pitches, too.”
Shaw didn’t give Maumee any pitches to hit.
The Panthers (19-6) had only two baserunners, both in the fourth inning on a walk and hit batter. It was Shaw’s fourth no-hitter of the season and seventh of her career.
Despite all of her individual achievements Sunday, Shaw was more excited for the team than for herself.
“What I’m going to remember most from today was the team celebration at the end of the game,” Shaw said. “After Summer hit that (second) home run we all looked at each other and said, ‘Guys, we’re going to state.’”
Keystone had 12 hits, seven for extra-bases. In the fourth inning, pinch-hitter Madi Nunez got in on the home run action when she hit a looping line drive down the right-field line that fell just out of the reach of Panthers right fielder Parris Hunt and rolled into the corner. Nunez circled the bases for a two-run, inside-the-park home run.
“I can’t believe we’re going to state for the second year in a row,” Nunez said. “I’m so excited to get a second shot at it this year. I expected this to be a really close game but we came out and played our best game today. Coach P’s (Jim Piazza) pep talks are pretty amazing and really get us pumped up before the game.”
Keystone’s outfielders had a lot of time to ponder whatever Memorial Day activities they may have planned as Maumee didn’t hit a ball out of the infield all day.
The Wildcats avenged their loss to Maumee two years ago in the regional semifinals. With one more win, they may have a rematch with the Hebron Lakewood team that ended their season in the state semifinals a year ago.
“This is a great group of kids and they came in focused,” said Piazza, who has led the ’Cats to two of their three state titles. “They were patient and had good pitch selection today. We talk all the time about getting off to a fast start. When we do that it gives us extra energy and everything is good.
“We never took our foot off the gas. We saw too many games in the past week where teams gave up a big lead. Maumee is a great team and we knew their kids weren’t going to give up. Today just happened to be our kids’ day. This never gets old, it’s all a part of our tradition.
Every day we talk about the kids who came before set this up for us and we don’t want to let them down. This win is for everyone who’s ever played in this program.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or at email@example.com.
WHAT: Division II state semifinal
WHO: No. 2 Keystone (27-4) vs. Hamilton Ross (24-7)
WHEN: Friday, 10 a.m.
WHERE: Firestone Stadium, Akron
RADIO: WEOL 930-AM
AT STAKE: A berth in Saturday’s 4 p.m. final against No. 5 Akron Hoban (24-5) or No. 1 Hebron Lakewood (27-0)
WHAT: Division I state semifinal
WHO: No. 5 Amherst (25-5) vs. No. 4 Ashville Teays Valley (24-6)
WHEN: Friday, 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Firestone Stadium, Akron
RADIO: WEOL 930-AM
AT STAKE: A berth in Saturday’s 7 p.m. final against No. 3 Mason (26-2) or No. 9 Walsh Jesuit (22-5)