TOLEDO — An audacious bid for the state softball title by an upstart team of youngsters came to an end Tuesday at the hands of an old adversary.
The No. 3-ranked Toledo Boomers fell 1-7 at the hands of the Kennedy Trojans in a 2A/1A division semi-final game, the second time No. 8 Kennedy drove the girls into the ditch this season. In March, the Trojans prevailed 2-1 in a non-league match.
Kennedy’s Grace Schaecher threw the complete three-hitter, striking out eight Toledo batters.
“We just couldn’t hit the ball,” reflected Toledo Head Coach Howie Richards, whose team went undefeated in league play (14-0) for the third year in a row and never lost more than four games during any of those seasons.
“The pitching wasn’t overpowering. It was nothing but a fastball, but we couldn’t get ahold of her timing. End of story.”
For a while, Toledo (25-3 overall) got by on the larcenous behavior of first-up Kaycie Otis, hit by the pitcher on a 2-3 count in the first inning. She promptly swiped second and third bases, then tied the game 1-1 when she slid home on a Mahala Fisher’s sacrifice fly.
“She’s unbelievably smart when it comes to running bases,” observed Richards of the junior infielder who has driven the team stolen-base numbers (127 regular season steals) to three times the national average. The girl is fast — she’s only been put out once in 30 attempts.”
But then the bats went cold as Kennedy (22-4 overall) scored twice in the third and four times in the fourth, ending the aspirations of a roster lopsided with freshmen talent that nonetheless set lofty team goals. Among the checkmarks was a promise to bat over .400 and a pledge to keep opponent scoring under 75. They also checked the box, ‘Win league title.’
Richards said he was proud of his team, as well as their academics. The lady Boomers maintained a 3.5 average GPA during their 28-game season.
“These girls are amazing,” he concluded. “To take a group of freshmen and a couple of seniors and take the league by storm and go undefeated three years in a row is a pretty good accomplishment.”