That's the nature of the beast when it comes to state tournaments, and this
weekend's Ohio Girls Softball Organization state tourney at Shalersville
Park is no different.
It'll have its share of powerhouse unbeatens, unlikely `How'd They Get Here's?'
and standout players whose names will be burned into the memories of opposing
players and fans alike when the champions are crowned July 26.
``There's pressure for every kid there, every team there,'' said Crestwood
C-1 coach Randy Guyette, whose team is one of 13 local squads participating
in the tourney. ``You make one mistake there and it may be your last.''
Randolph Dan's TV & Electronics, competing in D Division (15-18 year olds),
knows a little bit about playing against quality competition. This is the
fourth straight appearance in the state tourney for Dan's TV, including
a state championship in 1995 and runner-up finish in '94.
Dan's TV (10-2 on the season) lost in the first round of the state tourney
a year ago, but a veteran group returns for the fourth straight go-around.
Leading the six returning starters is shortstop//pitcher Kelly Sharp, who
has fashioned a breathtaking .705 batting average. She's also 3-0 with a
Randolph is certainly loaded with quality pitching. Aside from Sharp, Christina
Francis is 4-2 with a 1.91 ERA and Cindy Steinel is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA.
``I think we've looked decent this year,'' said coach Bill Manion, whose
team (which consists solely of current or former Waterloo students) opens
the tournament against Brunswick on Saturday at 3:45 p.m. ``I think we'll
be all right. You don't know what you're going to get into in the tournament;
you don't know anything about the other teams. Of course, they don't know
anything about us, either.''
Dan's TV enters the tourney with somewhat of an infield shakeup. Nichole
Hensley will move from first base to third to fill in for Tammi Brink, who
suffered a knee injury last week and will be lost for the tournament.
Other area D Division teams in action Saturday are Rootstown, which plays
Elyria No. 2-Greg's BP//York Int. at 10:45 a.m., and Deerfield American
Legion, which plays the Lorain Lady Diamonds at 1:15 p.m.
In C Division (13-14 year olds), Crestwood C-1 puts an unblemished 17-0
record on the line against Wellington Brother's Chevy Olds at 3:30 p.m.
This is Crestwood's second straight year in the state tournament, having
lost in the first round of the state tourney last year.
``We're a better team this year, by far,'' said Guyette. ``The year of experience,
basically, is what the difference is.''
Crestwood has won with the same basic formula all year: pitcher Tawny Pahoresky
stymies the opponents' hitting, while its own deep batting lineup produces
plenty of runs.
``Every kid on the team hits the ball,'' said Guyette. ``We really don't
have any weak spots. We play as a team and that's how I coach them.''
Also in C Division Saturday, Suffield Hendrickson Construction plays North
Ridgeville Northern Savings at 1 p.m., while Randolph Advertising Apparel
faces Wellington C&W Trucking at 6 p.m.
In B Division (11-12 year olds), Edinburg Dairy Queen rolls into its 5:45
p.m. clash against Springfield Village Pharmacy with a perfect 18-0 slate.
Although Dairy Queen is making its first-ever state tourney appearance,
don't be fooled: of its 18 wins, 14 of them never went past the fifth inning
(due to the 10-run, five-inning mercy rule).
``We really don't have any obvious weaknesses,'' said coach Dick Badger,
whose team is winning by an average of 14-2. ``We're pretty strong all through
Pitcher Jennifer Whiteleather has posted a 14-0 record and 0.30 ERA, striking
out 158 and allowing just 29 hits in 72 innings. Whiteleather, third baseman
Mandy McCrady and catcher Amy Austin are all batting over .600.
``We lost last year in the district,'' said Badger, ``and the girls said,
`We don't like losing and we're not going to do it again.' We're anxious
to see how we can do against other districts.''
Other local B Division teams in action Saturday are Rootstown Geigerich
Orthodontist, which plays the Brunswick Babes at 10:15 a.m.; Newton Falls
True Value, which faces Wellington Buckley's Babes at 12:45 p.m.; and Crestwood
B-1, which goes against the Highland Hornets at 3:15 p.m.
In A Division (9-10 year olds), there is yet another unbeaten area team:
Brimfield Home Savings Bank, which is 14-0 as it prepares to face Wellington
Forest City Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
``We played in the district final last year and we were runner-up,'' said
coach Ralph Shaffer. ``The girls were a little hungry this year.''
That hunger, combined with extra time in the batting cages, paved the way
to the state tournament, according to Shaffer.
``We seem to be hitting pretty well this year,'' he said. ``We got some
batting cages at (Brimfield Elementary) this year and that's really helped
a lot. You can really correct things they're doing wrong ... it's a confidence-builder.
This is the best hitting team I've had and I have to give the cages a lot
of the credit.''
Home Savings Bank is led by tri-captains Ali Rebszenko, Heather Stutzman
and Angie Walker, along with shortstop//third baseman Kaitlin McCauslin.
Rebszenko is 14-0 as a pitcher, surrendering only 10 hits all year, while
pounding out 40 hits at the plate. Stutzman, the catcher, has collected
25 hits, McCauslin has 18 hits and left fielder Walker has 13 hits.
``Just given our record, I would have to say we're favored,'' said Shaffer.
``We're going to have fun, because we're just tickled to death to be there.''
Other local A Division teams who will play Saturday are the Crestwood A's,
who will face Marlboro Park Farms at 10 a.m., and Edinburg Baker Trucking,
which plays the South Amherst Cavaliers at 3 p.m.