The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

May 25, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Eagles join elite

How special is the magic-carpet ride the Geneva Eagles are on this spring on softball fields across the region?

Consider, this season marks the 36th campaign the Ohio High School Athletic Association has conducted a state tournament and what coach Eleshia Pitcher and her Eagles have accomplished in winning the Jefferson Division II district championship has happened only once before in the history of the Geneva program.

In 1993, the late Bob Herpy led Geneva, paced by the likes of Tiffany Leonard, Kara Anderson, Shawn Novak and Tara Leonard, to a Division I district crown and it hadn’t happened since... until now, that is.

All of which makes Geneva one of 16 Division II teams still standing in the Buckeye State.

And the 21 wins ties the school record for conquests in a single season, matching the mark set by, you guessed it, Herpy’s aforementioned 1993 squad.

Friday’s 5-3 planting of top-seeded Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (22-8) makes Geneva the 12th Ashtabula County team to win a district championship, the first since coach Andy Gray’s Pymatuning Valley Lakers won a Division III district title in 2008.

Here’s a list of Ashtabula County’s district-championship softball squads:

  • 1979 — Grand Valley.
  • 1982 — Grand Valley.
  • 1988 — Grand Valley.
  • 1989 — Grand Valley.
  • 1991 — Jefferson.
  • 1993 — Geneva.
  • 1997 — Grand Valley.
  • 2000 — Conneaut.
  • 2003 — Edgewood.
  • 2006 — Edgewood.
  • 2008 — Pymatuning Valley.
  • 2013 — Geneva.

A closer look at that dozen makes what Geneva has done this spring even more impressive.

Consider, half of the above-mentioned teams reached the Sweet 16 in smaller-school divisions — the five GV teams and the one PV squad.

From the first year the OHSAA began holding state tournaments (1978) through the 1989 season, there were three divsions for softball — Class A, Class AA and Class AAA.

The four GV teams, all coached by Cyndy Thomas, reached the regional tournament in Class A.

Before the 1990 season, the OHSAA went to its still-in-use four-classification setup — Division I, Division II, Division III and Division IV — and GV made it in Division III in 1997, as did PV in 2008.

By virtue of their tremendous performance this season, the 2013 Eagles make Geneva one of only three Ashtabula County teams to fly to a district title more than once, joining GV (5 times) and Edgewood (2 times).

This spring, led by senior southpaw hurler Amy Pitcher and the run and gun offensive attack paced by twins Becky and Sarah Depp, Alyssa Donato, Amy Pitcher and Kylie Hansen, the Eagles have proven to be the best team in the Premier Athletic Conference, the best team in Ashtabula County and now, the best team in the district.

And now, one of the best softball teams in the history of this county.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at donmac@suite224.net.

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