A late Cardinals' rally was snuffed by the highly-ranked Blue Devils.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HUBBARD -- As the many underclassmen on the Canfield High School softball team turn in their uniforms today to be packed away for another season, they can reflect on taking one of the top teams in the state to the limit.
Tuesday at Hubbard High School against Tallmadge, one bad hop bounced the Cardinals out of the Division II district tournament as Tallmadge won, 4-2.
The Blue Devils (22-4), who have 13 trips to the state tournament in school history, were pressed by the Cards (17-9), especially in the later innings.
Today, Tallmadge will meet Poland (19-7) at Hubbard High School at 4:30 p.m. for the district championship.
Unearned runs: With the first two batters of the game out, Tallmadge collected back-to-back singles.
A groundball bounced off senior second baseman Allison Morgan, allowing two unearned runs to score.
"We've got a very young team and I just told them they can walk out of here with their heads up." Canfield coach Fred Mayhew said.
"We just played the No. 2 [ranked] team in the state and we were never out of it. We are going to build on this."
The Blue Devils scored again in the second to take a 3-0 lead when Erin Myers dropped an RBI double into shallow left field.
Canfield cut into the deficit later that inning when freshman Nikki Garrett doubled to right field, was bunted to third and scored on a groundout.
Example: Tallmadge put on a classic textbook example of how to play with the lead.
Pitcher Stephanie Conrad (10-2) induced 13 groundball outs and got fine defense, including a diving catch in right field to end the fifth inning.
Tallmadge used a one-out triple and a sacrifice fly in the third to go in front 4-1, but the Cardinals refused to quit. Playing with a three-run deficit cuts into a team's offensive capability, however.
"Canfield came back," Tallmadge coach Don Duffy said.
"They hit the ball. "They have a nice program. Their youth program is strong. Our kids have gone head-to-head with them in Little League. We knew they would go after us."
Morgan doubled for her second hit to lead off the Canfield sixth inning. Two outs later, she scored on a single by sophomore Stephanie Mistovich. A walk and the second single of the game by sophomore Megan Turocy loaded the bases.
Strong finish: However Conrad retired the last four hitters to end the game.
"They don't make mistakes," Mayhew said.
"We have nothing to be ashamed of.
"We just played an excellent team with excellent coaching. They are fundamentally sound. We played them close."
Duffy agreed that the short list of elite Div. II teams in the area may have just expanded by one club.
"We've played Canfield before and we know they are tough," Duffy said.