Boardman will play Hamilton Saturday for the crown.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
ASHLAND -- One year ago, the Boardman High softball team returned from Brookside Park with a disappointing defeat and a goal for the 2001 season: A return trip to the Division I state title game.
Thursday, the Spartans' met that goal.
Senior pitcher Marissa Bar tholomew threw a four-hitter and was backed up by heads-up defense, and freshman Jaclyn Corroto hit a two-out RBI single as Boardman defeated Hilliard Davidson 1-0 in a state semifinal game.
Boardman's next goal -- the state championship -- will be on the line Saturday at 10 a.m., when the Spartans (29-3) play Hamilton (25-8). Hamilton defeated Anthony Wayne 5-1 in Thursday's other semifinal.
"We ended last year saying we didn't quite get the job done," said Boardman manager Bill Amero, referring to a 3-1 loss to Hilliard Darby in the championship game.
"We are where we expected to be and where we want to be," Amero said. "[Davidson] played a great game, their pitcher threw well. We just strung together a couple of hits and they couldn't."
Winning rally: The Spartans broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning. The rally started when Bartholomew singled with one out against Davidson's junior pitcher, Melissa Myher.
Krysta Sylvester, inserted as a courtesy runner for Bartholomew, advanced to second when junior Gina Rango singled to left field.
After Jennifer Feret struck out swinging, Corroto jumped on Myler's first pitch, smacking it up the middle. Sylvester beat center fielder Jenny Owen's throw to the plate.
"I was a little nervous before the game, but once we started playing I was fine and I had confidence," said Corroto. "All I wanted to do was hit that run in."
Amero said Corroto began the season at third base filling in for Rango, who missed eight games with an illness. When Rango returned, Corroto took over at second base when junior starter Amanda Ford broke an ankle while filling in at catcher.
"As a freshman, she's been so versatile -- she's played third, second and some outfield for us," Amero said. "As far as hitting, we've had her [bat] lead-off, two, three and six.
"She's a good contact hitter. She's been a tough-luck hitter lately, because she's hit the ball hard and really hasn't had a lot to show for it."
Scoring threat: The Wildcats (29-4), who eliminated Hilliard Darby in a regional final, mounted their best scoring threat in the fifth.
With one out, sophomore Courtney Wright singled to left-center and sophomore Cheryl Potocki followed with a hard smash that deflected off Corroto's glove.
Junior Emily Burt's blooper into shallow right was fielded by Audrey Martinko, who fired to Feret at first for the second out.
Meanwhile, Wright wandered too far between third base and home plate. Feret threw to catcher Meghan Hovanic, who chased Wright back and threw the ball to Rango for an easy tag.
"Our first baseman made a great play looking to the lead runner," Amero said. "We knew they are an aggressive team and we took advantage of it."
Davidson manager Angelo Forte, who also coaches third base, took responsibility for the crucial play.
"That was all me," Forte said. "She was doing what I wanted. We teach our girls to make wide turns at third and that's what she did. If the throw was bad or the ball was bobbled, we would have scored. Instead, they made a great play."
Feret said she had one thought when she saw Wright so far off the bag: "Coach [Amero] told us before the game that we should be throwing ahead of the runner because of their aggressiveness."