PARMA — Vanessa Williams once sang about saving the best for last, and that’s exactly what Midview did Thursday afternoon in the Division I district championship game against the Olmsted Falls Bulldogs at James Day Park.
With three runs in their final atbat, the Middies (23-5) won the district title and clinched a spot in next week’s regional tournament after a 5-4 victory over Olmsted Falls (16-10). The win also gave the Middies a school record for victories in a season.
“It’s what we worked for since October,” coach Mike Ives said with a tear in his eye and ice water dripping from his ball cap after getting a bucket of liquid dumped on his head. “It’s great.”
“It feels great,” said Midview’s Heather Miller. “Midview’s only won districts once and that was when I was born (1990). It’s kind of special to us to wrap one up.”
Down by two runs entering the bottom of the seventh, the Middies loaded the bases and quickly tied the game when Kate Thomas delivered a two-run double down the left-field line.
Earlier in the inning, Miller hit a double to center field to put runners on second and third.
Miller’s double came just a few pitches after she hit what looked to be an inside-thepark home run down the right-field line. Miller blooped the hit over the head of first baseman Lauren Rodgers and hustled around the base paths, but the first base umpire ruled the ball missed the foul line and landed out of play.
“When I got in the box, I knew that I just had to calm down because if I did it once, I could do it again,” said Miller. “I knew I had to put it in play. For me, it’s really hard after a situation like that, but I have to settle down. Otherwise, I won’t hit it, so it’s a routine for me.”
“We caught such a big break on that that we thought, ‘OK, good. Just get her here.’ Then she came back and put it in play and they get a double,” said Olmsted Falls coach Jim Smith. “The kid hit a good pitch. They’re a good team and they hung with us all day. They made the plays. They got the out they needed.”
After Thomas’ double, the next two Midview hitters went down swinging at strike three. However, with two outs and the winning run still on base, Ann Turner stepped to the plate and hit a single between shortstop and third base to drive in Thomas for the winning run.
“I thought it was unreal because the shortstop was pretty phenomenal,” said Turner. “I figured she might snag it, but luckily it got through. It felt amazing.”
Turner was batting in the No. 9 spot in the order after spending much of the season near the top of the lineup.
“Ann Turner’s been a great player for us all year long,” said Ives. “She was batting two for a long time. We just changed the lineup a couple weeks ago and today, I’m really glad we did change that lineup because it did pay dividends.
“I wanted a little more speed at the bottom and I wanted her sister to be batting leadoff and get the Turners bunched up together. They give teams problems.”
Thomas scored Midview’s fifth and final run, but she also did a lot of damage with her bat. She went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs.
“We’ve been working a lot on waiting for it, stepping and driving,” said Thomas. “I really think it paid off, especially with the outside pitch. We’ve been working on that a lot. Just like the batting cages, I relaxed and hit it.”
Contact Matt Florjancic at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.