Rebels rally to cap­ture dis­trict cham­pi­onship

South erases four-run deficit, will face Can­field in Divi­sion I re­gional semi­fi­nal

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - SPORTS - By John Kampf jkampf@news-her­ald.com @nhpreps on Twit­ter

The South Rebels are headed back to the re­gional soft­ball tour­na­ment.

Af­ter spot­ting top-seeded Madi­son a 6-2 lead in the first in­ning, South scored 10 unan­swered runs and took a 12-6 vic­tory that will put the Rebels in the Univer­sity of Akron Re­gional on May 23 to play Can­field, the champion of the Solon Dis­trict.

“I’ve been here 13 years and I’ve said from Day 1 that con­fer­ence cham­pi­onships are great. They’re won­der­ful,” said South coach Erin Dod­son. “But it’s what you do in the post­sea­son that dic­tates whether you are a good team or a great team. This shows we are on the more to (be­ing) a great team.”

The Western Re­serve Con­fer­ence champion Rebels (237) sprayed 15 hits around the ball­park, took ad­van­tage of 10 walks is­sued by Madi­son pitch­ers and de­spite scor­ing 12 runs, left a small vil­lage on base by strand­ing 14 run­ners.

Madi­son (18-4) looked as though it was go­ing to take the rub­ber match of the sea­son se­ries — the Blue Streaks and Rebels split their reg­u­lar sea­son matchups.

When Jor­dan Pasalaqua and Alexis Lavdis ripped RBI sin­gles, fol­lowed by a bases-loaded dou­ble by Al­li­son Schultz and a run­scor­ing dou­ble by Halle Black­ford, the Blue Streaks had a 6-2 lead af­ter one.

But af­ter Madi­son’s first seven bat­ters in the first in­ning reached, win­ning pitcher Ri­ley Frizell faced only three bat­ters over the min­i­mum the rest of the game.

“We worked so hard in the sum­mer on the men­tal game, and you saw it to­day,” Dod­son said. “We re­ally could have packed our bags and left af­ter the first or sec­ond in­ning, but men­tally we stayed strong and stayed in it. We kept fight­ing.”

Ava Scott de­liv­ered tworun sin­gles in both the sec­ond and third in­nings to help South re­take the lead, a lead it wouldn’t re­lin­quish.

“That’s ob­vi­ously not our ideal sit­u­a­tion,” said Frizell of giv­ing up six runs in the first in­ning, “but I’m proud of the way our team came back. That was a bumpy, rough in­ning, I’m not go­ing

to lie. But we set­tled down, played our game and came out with a ‘W.’ ”

The score could have been much worse. South left mul­ti­ple run­ners on base in six of the seven in­nings.

“That hap­pened yes­ter­day (in a dis­trict semi­fi­nal win over North), it hap­pened against May­field,” Dod­son said. “We’re leav­ing too many run­ners in scor­ing position. That’s some­thing we have to

change if we’re go­ing to do some­thing down the road.”

Some­what lost in the im­pres­sive of­fen­sive out­burst was Frizell’s dom­i­nance over a rugged Madi­son lineup. Af­ter giv­ing up six runs on five hits in the first in­ning, the sopho­more pitcher gave up only one hit the rest of the game.

Frizell only struck out two, but got dy­namic de­fense be­hind her.

“We didn’t hit the ball hard enough,” said Madi­son

coach Art Rose. “If we did hit it hard enough, we hit it right at some­body.

“I think we still hit the ball hard a few times, but it was right at the short­stop. Or right at the sec­ond base­man. Or right at the third base­man. Or right at the cen­ter fielder. Move all those shots over two feet and it’s a whole new ball­game.”

While Madi­son strug­gled to piece to­gether of­fense af­ter the first in­ning, South’s of­fense had many stars. Mya Ma­tri­ano had three hits and three runs as the lead­off bat­ter, Frizell had two hits and four runs, Scott had her four RBI to go with three hits and even No. 8 hit­ter Al­li­son Ce­sar had a dou­ble, triple and three runs scored.

“We can hit one-through­nine,” Dod­son said.

Now the Rebels are in the re­gional tour­na­ment for the first time since their se­niors were fresh­men.

Make that se­nior, as Kris­ten Jes­berger is the lone 12th-grader on the team.

“We’re ul­ti­mately do­ing this for Kris­ten,” Frizell said. “She’s our only se­nior. We want noth­ing more. We’re go­ing to work our butts off for this girl.”

COLEEN MOSKOWITZ — THE NEWS-HER­ALD

A South baserun­ner eyes the ball as a Madi­son player picks it up on May 17 in Men­tor.

COLEEN MOSKOWITZ — THE NEWS-HER­ALD

South cel­e­brates its dis­trict cham­pi­onship vic­tory over Madi­son on May 17 in Men­tor.

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