DIVISION II SOFTBALL Knill's no-hitter puts Poland in title game against Walsh Jesuit
The game will be played today at 1 p.m. in Akron.
By BOB ROTH
AKRON -- Sarah Knill fired her second no-hitter of the season to power the Poland High School softball team to a 4-0 victory over Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin Friday in a Division II regional semifinal game at Firestone Park.
With six hits, the Bulldogs (24-6) scored a run in each of the second through fifth innings to advance to today's regional final at 1 p.m. against Walsh Jesuit (24-5).
"Sarah, by mixing her pitches up, took them out of what they wanted to do," Poland coach Reid Lamport said. "They play 'little ball' and she wouldn't allow them to make it happen.
"We got good defense, great pitching and timely hitting and now we live to play another day."
Late scares: The Bulldogs faced a few late scares when Knill (19-4) walked five batters in the last two innings.
The most frightening moment came in the seventh inning when the junior right-handed ace loaded the bases with one out.
"I knew I had a no-hitter going, but I tried not to think about it," Knill said. "The important thing was just to win. If [the no-hitter] happened, it was something extra, a bonus."
Of her late-inning wildness, she said, "I might have been too excited and started to overthrow."
Knill ended the threat with a pair of groundball outs.
The first was a one-hopper back to the mound for a force play at the plate to catcher Suzanne Olesko who made a good grab on a low throw.
The other was a shot to Heidi Kimmel who stepped on first base to end the game.
Knill had six walks, six strikeouts and retired 14 more hitters with groundball outs as she didn't allow a ball to be hit out of the infield.
After a walk to Notre Dame's Christina Maier in the first inning, Knill retired 16 consecutive batters.
Of those 14 groundball outs, Knill made five assists herself.
One of them was a saving play of her no-hitter when she stretched her 5-8 frame into the air in the sixth inning. She took a hit away from Cathedral Latin pinch-hitter Colleen Andrassy on a shot through the box.
"The young lady pitched a superb game," Notre Dame coach Jack McParland said.
Effective combination: "She kept us off balance all day mixing up her pitches and helped herself with great defense," McParland said. "She got a little nervous in the seventh and gave us a chance."
In today's game, Lamport, in his 12th season, said that his Bulldogs will be facing an excellent team with an all-state freshman pitcher in Larainna Flocari.
All the scoring Knill really needed was in the second inning, when Olesko singled and was sacrificed to second by Stephanie Russell.
Jessica Lamport took an 0-1 pitch and lined it into left-center field to knock in Poland's first run.
"The pitch was in my sweet spot, inside, and I was able to turn on it and get it into the outfield," Lamport said.
Leadoff hitter Katie Naumoff was 2-for-3 to lead the Bulldogs' attack. Naumoff, a sophomore right-fielder, had a single in the third and an RBI double in the fourth.
Michele Nespeca made an outstanding defensive play when she robbed Maier of a hit in the fourth inning. Poland's junior third baseman charged the ball to get the one-hop shot.
In the same inning, Nespeca's double went into the left-center field alley to set the stage for Poland's third run.
The Lions bowed out 24-7.