The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

July 15, 2014

Tallmadge takes home the gold

State champs edge past Ironton in title game

ASHTABULA — Wilkinson Paving Field at Cederquist Park has seen some great games, some not-so-great games, and some great efforts through the years.

As Ashtabula hosted Ohio’s State Little League Softball Tournament these past few days, a host of things happened, both good and bad.

It all came down to a matchup Monday between winners’ bracket champ Tallmadge (District 3) and Ironton (District 11).

Tallmadge emerged with a hard-fought 3-1 win in the true dogfight of the game.

The state champions receiveda huge break in that bottom of the fourth frame, scoring the go-ahead runs, and held on for dear life to claim the gold.

“Emily  (Pratt, starting pitcher) struggled early with her pitches,” Tallmadge manager Nick Dadich said. “She wasn’t getting ahead in the counts, but she kept pounding the strike zone as much as she could and got it figured out.”

The stage was set for what Tallmadge does best.

Lauren Tecca grounded a sharp single up the middle to start the bottom of the fourth. With 1 out, Pratt bounced a soft grounder up the middle. The ball was fielded cleanly, but the throw to first was not in time, with pinch-runner Malena Cioffi taking second.

Then, the play of the game occurred.

Autumn Malicoat, a left-handed hitter, sent a screaming line drive at third baseman McKenzie McMaster. Catching the ball was no problem, but Cioffi strayed too far from second, thinking the ball was heading to left field. It wasn’t, but by the time McMaster saw what she had in front of her, it was a close play for the double play at second.

Unfortunately for Ironton, the throw was dropped, and pinch-hitter Paige Leitner ripped the very next pitch on a line to right-center to plate 2 runs and effectively decide the contest.

“I always have some type of words from my mom (Lisa) in my head when I go up to hit,” Leitner said. “I knew it was a big situation, but I wanted to help the team.”

She did, and Lizzie Bickar used some smart baserunning in the fifth to set up an insurance run to account for the final score.

She led off with a ground single to left. Katie Hussing laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line, forcing the third baseman to field the ball. Being fleet of foot, Bickar saw that the shortstop was slow to cover third base, beat her to that bag with 1 out, and came home on a wild pitch to close the scoring.

Hallie Mullett, in relief of Pratt, set Ironton down on just a bloop single to center by Mary Beth Burton in the seventh, shutting down 3 other potent hitters of Ironton in the process, and the title was won.

“I was just looking to get to third in that last inning for us,” Bickar said. “I wanted us to get that extra run because Ironton is a great team that can crush the ball in a hurry. I knew if we scored again there would be less pressure.”

Both teams had scoring chances but didn’t get things done in the first 3 innings. Ashley Collingsworth drilled a long fly ball deep into the right-field corner leading off the Ironton fourth. A sharp ground ball went right between the wickets of the shortstop to plate the game’s first run and set up a runner at second base. A walk and bloop single to center by Haleigh Rowe loaded the bases with 1 out, and it looked like Ironton was about to break it wide open.

Pratt had other ideas, fanning the next hitter and inducing a soft comebacker, to bring a huge sigh of relief to Dadich.

“In a big game like this, you must take advantage of every break you get,” he said.

His girls did just that, to the dismay of Ironton manager Troy Sands and his girls.

“We had a couple big mistakes at the wrong time today, but this group of girls are a team I’d love to take anywhere anytime,” he said. “My hat’s off to Tallmadge for playing a solid, smart game today. Their pitchers (Pratt and Hallie Mullett) were good today. They kept us off-balance more than anybody else has, and they did a nice job of playing small ball.

“We can , too, but I’ve also got 6-7 girls on this team who can hit the long ball. They’ve done it here this week, but today, it just didn’t happen for us.”

Mary Beth Burton, Ironton’s top pitcher , was much sharper than she was in yesterday’s losers’ bracket title game with Canfield, a 12-9 Ironton win.

“I tried to follow the instructions I’ve always gotten from my coaches,” she said. “I feel that if I can throw strikes for the most part and keep the game within 3 runs, with our hitters, we stand a good chance of winning. I’m disappointed, but I’m also proud of our whole team.”

With the super start for both teams in this game, it took a break to decide it, and that dropped throw on the possible inning-ending double play at second would have given Ironton a 1-0 lead after 4 innings had it been caught.

It wasn’t, Tallmadge got Leitner’s big pinch-hit double, and Ironton hearts were broken after their first title at any district event and first appearance at the state level.

It was 1 day from smiles to tears for it, but Tallmadge earned this title by keeping within the things that got it to this tournament in the first place.

Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • run VanHoy racing on

    Geneva track star Hailey VanHoy had a near unbelievable run of success during her final months running for the Eagles.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Danielle Zip-ing along

    Just minutes after Geneva’s Danielle Nicholson holed out on the 18th green at the Gray Course at Ohio State University during her freshman year to win the 2011 Division I state championship, the recruitment process of where she would go to college began.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Maruna headed for Mount

    LeeAnn Maruna never really expected to play collegiate golf. She was so taken aback when the opportunity presented itself, she didn’t know how to respond. After all, the Grand Valley graduate had only been playing the game for a few years.

    July 23, 2014

  • Crate Late Models featured

    The Evergreen Lake Park Campground Crate Late Models, the premier class at Raceway 7, will be featured Friday night as they race for $1,000 to win.

    July 23, 2014

  • Norm He’s the Norm

    In the early part of the 20th century, as golf was taking off in popularity, it was not uncommon for boys to take up the game after becoming caddies.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don A Don McCormack column: The journey is what’s most important

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of weeks, you’ve heard over and over and over how it’s been a half-century since one of Cleveland’s big three professional sports teams have won a championship.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Murdick wins as Big Block Modifieds return

    The BRP Big Block Modifed Tour returned to Raceway 7 with 21 of the region’s fastest Modifieds turning out for the scheduled 35-lap event, the first for the Modifieds at the northeast Ohio speedplant since 2005, an event won by Todd Burley.

    July 21, 2014

  • Dale Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Chances for controlled waterfowl hunting

    Waterfowl hunters are invited to participate in special drawings for controlled hunting opportunities, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife. The drawing dates and times are as follows:

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingsville gets it done

    In a rematch of a previous softball clash between the Kingsville 9-10-year-olds and those from Conneaut, Kingsville had settled thing quickly and decisively in a mercy-rule triumph.

    July 20, 2014

  • TD Club golf A Chris Larick column: TD Club hopes to score

    Though its life was never seriously threatened, the Ashtabula County Touchdown Club has suffered in recent years.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

Little League All-Stars July 1 to 12
AP NASCAR Lastest News
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings
AP Auto Racing Photos
West Side Shootout 2014
Ashtabula County at State Track Meet
Jefferson vs Akron St. Vincent St. Mary Regional Softball
District Track 2014
Jefferson District Softball Tournament
Bob Walters 50 Years
Geneva vs Perry Division II District Semifinal
Sports Week in Review May 12 to May 17
Sports Week in Review May 5 to May 10 2014
Sports Week in Review April 28 to May 3
Sports Video Archive
House Ads
AP Video