The Spartans dropped a 3-2 decision in eight innings to Carl Sandburg of Illinois.
By BRIAN LESTER
SPECIAL TO THE VINDICATOR
ASHLAND -- Missed opportunities are costly in any game, but in a tournament against fierce competition, they are often magnified.
Boardman High's softball team learned that lesson the hard way Saturday in the Wendy's Classic at Cahn Grove Park. The Spartans let two scoring chances slip through their fingers and ended up on the short-end of a 3-2 decision against Illinois state softball power Carl Sandburg.
Sarah Watson delivered a game-winning single over the head of Boardman's right-fielder in the bottom of the eighth inning to secure the win and hand the top-ranked Ohio team in Division I its first loss of the day. The Spartans were slated to play Fairfield (Calif.) High Saturday night.
"We had chances. We just didn't take advantage of them," Boardman coach Bill Amero said. "When you have runners on base, you have to be able to advance them. We didn't do that, and against a quality team, that can hurt you."
Boardman could have easily taken the lead in the fourth inning, but instead had to settle for scoring only once and tying the game at 1. Laura Amero opened the frame with a single before Gina Rango slapped a one-out, RBI single.
Jennifer Feret came up with a two-out double moments later to put runners at second and third, but Meghan Hovanic flew out.
"We had runners on second and third, and I thought we had a good chance to score," Amero said. "But their pitching was tough and they did a good job defensively of taking away our opportunities."
Other opportunities were also taken away from Boardman (11-2). In the sixth, Jaclyn Corroto drew a one-out walk and eventually reached second before Sandburg recorded two straight outs. Then, in the seventh, Feret led off with a single and stole second. But Sandburg starter Laura Brennon sent the next three Boardman batters down in order and set the stage for extra innings.
Brennon (3-0) was tough all afternoon, allowing five hits and striking out four.
"Laura is a great pitcher," Sandburg coach Randy Couwenhoven said. "It wasn't her best performance of the year, but she got the job done. I also thought the defense played pretty well behind her."
Spartans take lead
The Spartans scored in the eighth inning to take a 2-1 lead. Audrey Martinko started the inning on second base because of the tiebreaker rule and moved to third on Mary McCabe's groundout to the pitcher. Martinko then broke for home on Amero's groundout and collided with the catcher as she stepped on the plate for a 2-1 Boardman lead. Martinko's run did not come without a price, however, as she fell to the ground in pain after injuring her knee during the collision. Martinko was carried off the field and appeared to be fine after the game, using an icepack to keep the swelling down.
"I think she'll be OK," Amero said. "She just banged her knee pretty good, but I don't think the injury is too serious."
Rango (3-1), who was touched for five hits and struck out four in the complete-game loss, started the bottom of the eighth off well enough by striking out Brittany Dixon.
But Gina Florence laid down a nice bunt to advance Erin Crowley to third and Brennon's 5-3 groundout plated Crowley. Watson then stepped up to the plate and tallied her single to drive in the winning run.
Amero and Feret each had two hits to pace the offense, while Watson tallied two hits for the Eagles (11-1).