Speece throws gem

The Western Reserve pitcher didn't know she threw a no-hitter against Leetonia.
BERLIN CENTER -- Jaclyn Speece of Western Reserve High pitched a masterpiece and didn't even know it.
Speece threw a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts, as the Blue Devils won the Division IV sectional championship Thursday with a 4-0 victory over Leetonia.
It was about 15 minutes after the game that Speece was first told of her no-hit performance. She didn't realize that Leetonia was held without a hit.
"I don't keep track of that stuff," Speece said of the no-hitter. "Pretty much, you just told me.
"I didn't even realize ... I just throw one batter at a time. I try not to look at those kinds of things because it might mess me up."
District next: Western Reserve (17-4) will meet the Mapleton-Mogadore winner in the district next Thursday at Ashland's Brookside Park.
It was the first no-hitter this year by Speece (13-2), a lanky left-hander. Just three walks separated her from a perfect game.
Speece struck out the side in the first inning and had six of the first seven and eight of the initial 12 Leetonia hitters (9-9) out on strikeouts.
"I didn't even know she had a no-hitter going," Western Reserve coach Joe Serensky said.
She faced 24 batters, three over the minimum, and allowed just one Leetonia runner to get to second base.
"I wasn't hitting my spots as well as I wanted to, but my junk pitches were working pretty good," Speece said.
Western Reserve scored twice in the third inning to give Speece all the runs she needed. Teri Bader singled to lead off and a pair of fielder's choices and a throwing error made it 2-0.
Meanwhile, Speece was eliminating the Bears with ease. Only one Leetonia hitter managed to get a fly ball to the outfield.
"The ball came in and we swung," Leetonia coach Gail Foreman said. "I think we were nervous."
Western Reserve threatened in the fourth, fifth and sixth, ending with two runners on base each time but did not score. Twice, the Blue Devils had runners on second and third but failed to plate a run.
More runs: Then, in the seventh, Stacy Coudriet doubled down the left field line and Speece singled. Tiffany Palumbo dropped down a bunt to score Coudriet and make it 3-0.
"I put on the squeeze play," Serensky said. "Palumbo is a good bunter. That was the time, element of surprise. We surprised the catcher and got the run in."
Kristen Kurth drove in the fourth run with a ground out. That was all Speece needed as she got two more strikeouts in the seventh to help the Blue Devils win for the eighth time in nine games.
"She certainly did a great job today," Serensky said of his pitcher. "In the big games Jaclyn always answers the bell."

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