Back-to-Back Jacks Send Lady Leps to State Final – Softball
Louisville 4, Elyria 2
The #4 ranked Louisville Leopards Softball team doubled up the #8 ranked Elyria Pioneers 4-2 Friday in the DI State Semifinals at Akron Firestone Stadium. The victory sets a new team record for wins in a single season as Louisville improves to 26-4 on the year. Even more importantly, the Lady Leopards advance to their first ever state championship game against the #2 ranked Lakota East Thunderhawks on Saturday at 4:00 PM.
Teagan Rice and Kaycee Ollis hit back-to-back solo home runs with two outs in the bottom of the sixth to put Louisville ahead 4-2. Rice blasted a 1-0 pitch over the fence in right field to give the Leopards the lead back after they had surrendered it just a half inning before. It was just her second home run of the season, but perhaps the most important in the history of the Louisville Softball program.
Ollis followed suit by hitting the second pitch of her at-bat over the right field fence to send the Leopards crowd into a frenzy. The home run was her 11th of the season, which ties Grace Jackson (2015) for the single season school record. The round tripper was Louisville’s 34th of the year, which is also a new school record eclipsing the 2015 team who hit 33. The back-to-back jacks forced a pitching change and the Leopard majority crowd began repetitive chants of “Leopard Nation” as LHS needed just three outs to punch their ticket to the first State Championship game in the history of girls athletics at Louisville.
It came quickly, as Sarah Cantley needed just seven pitches to retire the side in the seventh. The first two pitches of the inning resulted in a pop out to Sydney McKeever at second base and a ground out to Rice at shortstop. After three foul balls, the final contact was a grounder to Rice at shortstop. She gathered the ball, stepped to first, and Alex Fankhauser caught it for the final out. Smiles filled the field as the Leopards bench cleared and all the state finalists came together in celebration.
Baserunners were rare and runs were non-existent earlier on. Cantley helped keep the Pioneers at bay in the circle by retiring their lineup in order through the first three innings while striking out 6. She would not record a punch out the rest of the way, but when Elyria began to hit the ball her defense had her back.
Cantley hit lead-off batter Adrian Petrisko to begin the fourth inning. The speedy Petrisko would have surely scored two batters later when Maycee Godbolt hit a long fly ball to right. However, Right Fielder Kaylee Nolte stretched out on a miraculous over the shoulder catch to keep Petrisko at first. The catch further proved to be invaluable when Damia Parks laid down a sneaky two out bunt single on the next pitch. The attempt caught the Leopards defense off guard and Petrisko advanced to an uncovered third base and Parks ended up on second on the play. The next hitter popped out to McKeever on the edge of the outfield grass to end the frame.
Kerringan Williams also singled to begin the Elyria fifth inning. Mallory Phares followed with a well executed sacrifice bunt to put Williams into scoring position after Lauren Bennett fielded the ball from her third base position and threw down to McKeever covering at first. What the Pioneers didn’t account for was the lightning quick arm of McKeever who threw down to Rice at second base for the pick off and a rare 5-4-6 double play. A pop out to Fankhauser ended the inning and another Elyria threat.
The Leopards broke the deadlock with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Rice, who finished a perfect 3-for-3 for the game, hit a 1-out single to left field to start the rally. Ollis followed with a five pitch walk to put runners on first and second. Cantley then helped her own cause with a line drive single to left field that proved to be hit just hard enough to score Rice from second. Rice avoided the sweeping tag of the Pioneers catcher and slid head first into home to give Louisville a 1-0 lead. That advantaged doubled when Fankhauser and Justina Sirohman patiently drew back-to-back two out walks. Sirohman fell behind 1-2 before watching two straight balls to work the count full. She then fouled off a pitch and watched ball four with the bases loaded to bring home Ollis from third.
Godbolt erased the Leopards 2-0 lead with one swing of the bat in the top of the sixth. She hit a 2-out, 2-run homer over the right field fence to knot the game at 2-2. The bomb was her 13th of the season tying the Lorain County record and giving the Pioneers new life.
Louisville wasted no time in answering with back-to-back homers in the bottom of the inning via Rice and Ollis. The Lady Leopards picked each other up all game long just like they have done all season and all tournament. Every piece of the puzzle has fit perfectly together to create a historic opportunity Saturday for not only the Louisville Leopards Softball program but for Louisville High School Athletics as a whole. All together now…21 outs.
UP NEXT: The Louisville Leopards Softball Team will next take on the #2 ranked Lakota East Thunderhawks for the DI State Championship on Saturday, June 1 at 4:00 PM from Akron Firestone Stadium.
VARSITY SOFTBALL BOX SCORE
LEOPARDS 4, PIONEERS 2
ELYRIA PIONEERS SOFTBALL VARSITY BATTING STATS
|Isabella St Peter||2||1||1||0||0||0|
ELYRIA PIONEERS SOFTBALL VARSITY PITCHING STATS
|Isabella St Peter||6.0||127||.559||7||4||4||4||7||2|
LOUISVILLE LEOPARDS SOFTBALL VARSITY BATTING STATS
LOUISVILLE LEOPARDS SOFTBALL VARSITY PITCHING STATS
Records: Louisville 26-4