WELLINGTON — Grafton Nancy’s Main Street Diner and Wellington Lightning kept their perfect seasons alive and moved to within a victory of a state title Sunday at the Ohio Girls Softball Organization state tournament.
In Class B, Grafton scored in five of the first six innings in a 7-2 win over the Bristol Panthers. Nancy’s Main Street Diner’s manager Chris West said his team’s ability to score early has been key to the tournament success.
“I’ve been telling the girls since we started this tournament, ‘These teams are just as good as we are,’ therefore it’s important that we play with confidence and you come out and make a point early that you’re here to play and win,” West said. “All I’m doing right now is instilling confidence in my players. They are doing the rest with their hard work.”
Picher Marcella McMahon held the Panthers scoreless until the sixth inning. She threw a complete game, striking out five.
“I think I pitched pretty well,” McMahon said. “I’ve been practicing and doing a lot of drills so that I’m ready to do my best every game.”
Kaili Griffin went 4-for-4 for Grafton, which improved to 18-0.
“I was hitting good, but it wasn’t just me, it’s a whole team effort,” Griffin said. “I was very confident in our team coming into this game. We’ve been undefeated all year and we really like to play together. It’s just amazing to know that we are going to be playing in the county and state championship games.”
Grafton’s opponent in both the Class B state championship game and Wednesday’s county championship game will be the South Amherst Firelands Thunder. The Thunder (17-1) defeated the LaBrae Vikings 12-2 in the other Class B semifinal.
Rylee Phillips scored three runs in the game for South Amherst Firelands.
“We didn’t really do good the first two innings,” Phillips said. “Everybody’s attitude changed after that and we started hitting. We’re excited for the championship game. We’re going to practice hard this week.”
Both coaches are excited for Saturday’s all-Lorain County championship game.
“We know what (Grafton) is about, they know what we’re about,” Thunder manager Jim Coggins said. “We’re both in the same league, so it will be exciting.”
Grafton defeated South Amherst Firelands 9-8 in their regular-season meeting.
“We were hoping to keep the championship game an all-Lorain County affair,” West said. “South Amherst has a great coaching staff and they have some really awesome girls on that team. I know everybody on my team is excited to play them again.”
The Lightning delighted the home crowd at Wellington Community Park, overcoming its toughest test of the season as they held on for a 3-2 Class A win over the Mogadore Wildcats.
Amy Greene scored a pair of runs, including the go-ahead run in the fourth inning. Pitcher Payton Regal held the Wildcats scoreless over the final three innings to help her team improve to 17-0.
“I was nervous today, especially in the seventh inning, but all I could do was just keep playing my best” Regal said. “I was so happy when we got the final out and the game was over.”
Greene, who also had two singles, scored the first Lightning run in the second inning.
“We’ve had fun and played really hard all season so it was important to keep winning. I didn’t want the season to be over,” Greene said. “We already beat the two undefeated teams near Wellington and we’ve been doing good, so I thought we would win, but I wasn’t sure.”
With the outcome in doubt until the final out, Wellington manager Angie Lance ran the entire gamut of emotions in the dugout.
“That game was terribly exciting but it was also very stressful,” Lance said. “I was nervous the entire time. That was the closest game we played all season, but our pitching and our defense was top-notch. The girls responded well to the pressure.”
The Lorain Dirt Devils will be the area representative in the Class C championship game after they knocked off Brookfield 8-1 in the semifinals.
All of the championship games will be played Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Wellington.
Sunday was the end of the line for the Class C Columbia Crushers and the Class A North Ridgeville Ganley Lincoln Crushers. Columbia dropped a 5-3 decision to the Crestwood Heat and North Ridgeville lost an eight-inning heartbreaker to the Champion Fireflies, 4-3.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Class A (9-10 year olds)
Wellington Lightning 3, Mogadore Wildcats 3
Champion Fireflies 4, North Ridgeville Ganley Lincoln Crushers 3
Class B (11-12 year olds)
Grafton Nancy’s Main Street Diner 7, Bristol Panthers 2
South Amherst Firelands Thunder 12, LaBrae Vikings 2
Class C (13-14 year olds)
Crestwood Heat 5, Columbia Crushers 3
Lorain Dirt Devils 8, Brookfield Warriors 1