Pitcher Jenn Toth was strong and Sam Hoover's home run was a catalyst.
By JOHN BUTERA
NORTH LIMA -- In a repeat performance from last year, the South Range High softball team captured the Division III district championship Thursday, as Jenn Toth fashioned a four-hitter in Raiders' 3-1 victory over Garrettsville Garfield.
Toth (14-10) helped the Raiders (15-11) by scattering just four hits. She retired four batters on come-backers to the mound, and she received excellent help from her catcher, Jen Ridgeway, who twice gunned down Garfield runners attempting to steal second base.
South Range jumped on the board in the second inning when sophomore right fielder Sam Hoover belted a home run over the center-field fence.
"I think it surprised us all," Hoover said. "I didn't think it was going to go over and I couldn't believe it.
"It just came off the end of my bat and carried real well."
Hoover is in her first year of organized softball.
Winning rally: After an error and double helped the G-Men tie the score in the fourth, South Range broke the stalemate -- but not until its final at-bat.
After Ashley Basista reached on an error, Kristen Powers doubled her home with a shot to left-center.
One out later, Andrea Hazel singled just inside the right-field line, scoring Powers.
"I could have gone 10 more innings," Toth said. "Last year in the championship game, the same things pretty much happened.
"So, I wasn't worried after they tied it. I knew we would be able to do it. Right now our goal is to go to state. That would be the neatest thing ever if we did."
South Range coach Ray Thomas said, "I was a little worried early.
"But, they came through all year and I knew we were ready and that we could hit the ball," he added. "Right now I think our chances are as good as any to go on. We've got the people to win. Now, we just have to play error-free ball and continue to hit."
Rally stopped: With one out in the top of the fifth inning, South Range got a triple from Powers, with the ball sailing over the right fielder's head.
Garfield pitcher Kayle Foy (14-7) got the next batter to line out and struck out Hazel to end the inning.
Garfield (14-7) had additional chances to score in the second, third and sixth innings but was turned away each time.
A 6-3 double play by shortstop Niki Knopp stopped the final rally.
Toth retired the final six batters in order.