Fans, Umpires and Both Teams prepare for the playing of the National Anthem
Akron, OH - Two schools, both nestled in Northeast Ohio squared off in the "Grand Daddy of Them All" in the realm of Division II Ohio High School Softball at Akron's Firestone Stadium Saturday afternoon. Canfield, a mere 46 miles from Firestone Stadium, and Tallmadge, a hop skip, and jump from 10 miles away met at the mecca of their sport, looking to end their seasons of dreams with that big and final jewel, a State Championship.
In what started as a pitchers duel, with each starter getting through the first 3 innings with relative ease took a turn for Canfield ace Malena Toth in the bottom of the 4th. With 2 down and a runner on 3rd, Ashlyn Severns ran the count full and fouled off multiple Toth offerings before drawing a walk to get runners on the corners. Next up was Emma Garbinsky who slapped a single off Toth to break the scoreless tie.
The Cardinals get out of the 3rd inning unscathed after a close play at 2nd for the final out of the inning.
The Blue Devils weren't done there, with Mia Zappola also smacking an RBI single, advancing Garbinsky to 3rd. With runners once more on the corners, Zappola bolted to 2nd with no throw. 9 hole hitter Sydney Becks was the next Blue Devil to step into the box. Toth was able to get the count to a favorable 1-2 before Becks sent a frozen rope down the left field line, getting past the left fielder and rolling all the way to the fence, leading to a bases clearing inside-the-park home run and putting Tallmadge ahead 5-0 after 3 and a half innings of play.
Riley Jackson took the circle in the bottom half and made quick work of the Cardinals, throwing only 8 pitches in a 3 up, 3 down bottom of the 4th. After batting around in the 4th, the Blue Devils looked to extend their lead in the top half of the 5th. Jocelyn Caffelle was able to reach on an error to lead-off the inning. Following a Marley Queen strike out, Katie Huth was able to get on board with a single. Toth would get Severns to fly out to left for the second out. Next up was Garbinsky again who would smack a double in this plate appearance, bringing Caffelle home and putting runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. It was Deja Vu as Zappola would once again bring a run home on a single, bringing Becks to the plate. Toth was able to limit the damage compared to the prior inning, but Becks again brought home a runner on a single to make the score 9-0.
Canfield still wasn't able to figure out the Riley Jackson puzzle as she once again set the Cardinals down with not much traffic in the bottom of the 5th. Cardinal reliever Bella Kennedy stopped the bleeding and set the Blue Devils down with relative ease in the 6th and 7th to keep the score 9-0.
Riley Jackson was able to put the finishing touches on her masterpiece, setting the Cardinals down in order once again and giving the Tallmadge Blue Devils their 8th State crown, their first since 1998.
Tallmadge gets the final out of the game and a celebration ensues.
The Tallmadge Blue Devils pose for a team photo with trophy in hand.