High-school softball: Grove City struggles to find its offense
Greyhounds get only three hits in loss to Vikings
By Steve Blackledge
The Columbus Dispatch Friday May 25, 2012 5:15 AM
Coach Jerry Goodpasture lamented that his hard-hitting North Canton Hoover softball team was held to its second-lowest scoring output of the season yesterday.
“I was a little disappointed with the way we hit the ball today,” Goodpasture said. “We left way too many runners on base.”
If Grove City could take any consolation from a 3-1 loss to Hoover in a Division I regional semifinal at Ohio State’s Buckeye Field, it was in slightly denting the high expectations of the top-ranked defending state champion.
“I thought we’d have to score six runs or our pitcher would have to throw the game of her life to beat this team,” Grove City coach Ted Williams said. “Holding them to three, we couldn’t ask for a whole lot more because we knew they hit up and down the lineup. We just couldn’t get any big hits.”
The Greyhounds managed only three hits off winning pitcher Caly Russo, two coming on back-to-back singles by Madison Hottman and Emma Cornell in the seventh when they scored their only run.
Reliever Tara Thacker, however, struck out Jordan Kennaw, Taylor Hottman and Destini Ewing to end the threat and send the Vikings (27-3) into a regional final at noon on Saturday against Central Crossing (26-3). Russo will likely go against Central Crossing ace Savannah Dorsey.
“Caly did a great job for six innings, but we needed a change to show them a different type pitcher,” Goodpasture said. “Tara came in with a little more speed and put it on their hands so they couldn’t get around on it.”
Five-time state champion Hoover, which came in batting .430 and averaging 9.8 runs, sent an early message.
Leadoff hitter Mackenzie DiPietro doubled to the left-field wall off Kennaw. Ally Farrah advanced her to third on a sacrifice bunt. Oregon signee Jenna Lilley, who is batting .670, doubled off the left-field wall to give Hoover a 1-0 lead.
In the second, DiPietro hit a two-out, two-run double to the left-center field wall, giving the Vikings a 3-0 lead.
“Both of my doubles came on inside pitches that I drove,” DiPietro said. “I was a little surprised because that’s right where I like them.
“A couple of our girls play with a couple of their girls in the summer and we had a pretty good scouting report on how they might pitch us. We knew their pitcher’s tendencies pretty well, but she did a pretty good job holding us down today. Fortunately, we got up early on them and our defense and pitching carried us the rest of the way.”
Russo struck out only three Greyhounds, but a crisp defense made plays all day.
“Their pitcher wasn’t overpowering, but she kept it on the edges and did a nice job changing levels,” Williams said. “As for North Canton Hoover, their hits were hits. They earned them. They didn’t get cheated.”