After losing 2000 title game, Spartans set goal to win it all

Boardman reached its objective that was denied to them a year ago -- a state championship.
ASHLAND -- The Boardman High softball team can pinpoint to the exact minute and place when they vowed to win the 2001 championship.
It occurred just moments after losing the 2000 title game to Hilliard Darby, 3-1, at Brookside Park.
"A year ago today we made a commitment that we were going to come back and finish the job this time," Boardman coach Bill Amero said.
"We started [practicing] about Nov. 10th and it paid off."
Boardman was ranked among the top teams in the state all season, and was No. 1 before losing twice to a pair of good Florida teams. They finished the year 30-0 against Ohio teams and had a 19-game win streak overall.
Amero had many players returning from the state runner-up team, and quickly saw the quality that would be necessary for a championship run.
"They had the desire," Amero said of his players. "We came here last year and fell a couple runs short.
Goal: "We sat here last year and made a pact that we were going to be back again and we were going to finish the job."
Boardman played like an experienced team in the championship game, while Hamilton committed five early errors to permit three unearned runs.
"It's great that we came back after we lost last year," Spartan pitcher Marissa Bartholomew said.
"This is my senior year and this is all that I wanted. This is just a great feeling right now."
Good look: Boardman junior center fielder Laura Amero, daughter of the coach, finished with a single, a double, the first RBI of the game, and had a good look at Bartholomew throwing her three-hitter.
"It's just awesome," Laura Amero said.
"I was standing out there and I was all excited. I didn't know what to do."
Although Hamilton batters got a hold of a few Bartholomew pitches, Boardman made all the plays without an error. The experience from last year may have paid dividends.
"We're really good, really good," said shortstop Mary McCabe who had a highlight-reel type catch early on.
Winning formula: "This is a once in a lifetime deal," junior Gina Rango said. "You have to have a lot of luck, you have to have a lot of fans, and a lot of players behind you."
Rango had two of the six Boardman base hits.
"All the practice, all the determination paid off," Rango said. "It was our year-ago goal and we made it come through this year."

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