DIVISION II SOFTBALL Poland finally defeats Tallmadge for crown
The Bulldogs' defense came up with the plays when needed in the 4-1 victory.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HUBBARD -- Poland High got its lead-off batter on base six times, collected 14 baserunners overall, and took advantage of four Tallmadge errors, to defeat the Blue Devils 4-1 in the Division II district softball championship at Hubbard High School Wednesday.
It was the first post-season victory ever by a Poland team over Tallmadge in any sport.
Poland was 0-3 all-time against Tallmadge in softball tournament games and the Blue Devils have won seven state championships.
Poland will meet the Painesville district champ in the regional semifinal at Firestone Stadium in Akron next Thursday.
Breaking the ice: Sophomore right-fielder Katie Naumoff, the Bulldogs' leadoff hitter, walked, singled twice and scored the first run in the fifth inning to knot the score at 1.
"We thought they were good," Naumoff said. "We tried not to get intimidated. I think we came out knowing we could do it."
Poland wasted some early scoring opportunities, leaving runners on second and third with just one out in both the first and third innings.
After Tallmadge (22-5) used a single, a sacrifice and an RBI hit to score its only run in the fourth, Poland bounced back quickly.
"They got the first run but our girls came back in the next half inning and got two," Poland coach Reid Lamport said. "That really pumped us up a little bit."
Senior Suzanne Olesko, who had three RBIs, drove in two runs in the fifth when her hard grounder to second was misplayed.
"Two years ago our defense let us down and today their defense a little bit let them down," Lamport said.
"But we earned this. We had 11 hits. Our defense played very solid."
In 1999 Poland won a regular-season game with Tallmadge but lost 5-0 in the regional final.
"Two years ago they got us in regionals in basketball and regionals in softball," Lamport said.
Poland's turn: "It was just our turn today. It was a lot of fun. It's nice to beat them; they have such a quality program. Today was the Lady Bulldogs' turn."
Poland used two singles, a double and two errors to score twice in the seventh.
Poland senior Heidi Kimmel finished 5-for-7 in the district and had her second hit, a double, to lead off the seventh.
"I guess my confidence carried over from [Tuesday]," Kimmel said. "I was just in the zone."
Sophomore Jessica Lamport had two singles, a double and a sacrifice bunt. Her third hit drove in the fourth run.
While the Bulldogs were getting plenty of runners on base, the Poland defense teamed with Sarah Knill (17-4) to hold Tallmadge just 26 hitters, five over the minimum.
"Sarah threw another nice game," Lamport said. "You hold Tallmadge to five hits and you're pitching well. Our defense came up with the plays when we needed them."
Tallmadge coach Don Duffy has taken his team to the state tournament 10 times and has won on six occasions.
"Often times in the tournament it's not the team that makes the play, it's the team that doesn't," Duffy said.