PREP SOFTBALL This time, Raiders are decisive
South Range rolled to victory in a rematch with Jackson-Milton.
By BOB ROTH
NORTH LIMA -- Before their game Friday, the South Range and Jackson-Milton high school softball teams last met on April 8.
In that previous contest, senior Jenn Toth tossed a two-hitter with seven strikeouts in a 2-0 South Range win. And the losing pitcher that day, junior Corey Velk, was just as efficient, also allowing only two hits and striking out eight.
In their return contest Friday, the two pitchers again faced each other. This time, although the result was the same as host South Range won, the scenario was different as the Raiders rolled to an 11-3 decision.
South Range (13-5, 7-3 Inter-County League) sent 23 hitters to the plate through the second, third and fourth innings, scoring their 11 runs and drilling nine of their 11 hits.
Though Velk (6-6), the workhorse of the Jackson-Milton (7-6, 4-6) staff, was hit hard, she didn't receive the best support as there were four errors made behind her in South Range's six-run third inning.
With four of their 11 hits for extra bases -- triples by Kelly James and Amy Algeo and doubles by Crystal Schuler and Jen Ridgeway -- the Raiders also stole six bases, with the execution of a double steal twice.
Yet, with all of their offense the real story of this game was Toth, the senior right-hander, who was near perfect on the mound with a no-hitter into the Jackson-Milton sixth inning. Until then, the only person to reach base was Bluejay Kay Bruss on Toth's throwing error in the second inning.
With one out in the sixth, Jackson-Milton's Stephanie Rogenski popped a humpback liner into short right field for her team's first hit.
Gap doubles from Lynsey Kosa and Courtney Reppy following that first hit knocked in a pair of runs, and a line single to left by Velk sent another run home for Jackson-Milton's entire offensive output.
"I wasn't paying attention to a no-hitter, I was just glad that we were hitting the ball and winning," said Toth (7-4), who struck out six.
South Range coach Ray Thomas said, "We hit the ball well. I was surprised at our margin of winning, because Milton, the only team to beat [conference leader] Western Reserve, is a very good team. When Jenn Toth is on the mound for us, she keeps us in every game."
Two of the leaders
Kelly James, with a triple and single and two RBIs, and Britt Moore, with three RBIs, were two of the leaders of the South Range offense.
Another key offensive factor was senior shortstop Crystal Schuler in her initial season on the diamond for the Raiders.
In the top of the third, Schuler also kept Toth's no-hitter viable with a leaping grab of a liner off the bat of Kosa, but it was at the plate, with a double and two singles in four at-bats, where she was most effective.
"I got the timing of their pitcher down and was better than I usually am hitting, which had me satisfied," said Schuler, who scored three runs, knocked in one and stole two bases.
"We had an intense week of play. Being tired, we made mental mistakes behind Corey Velk that were costly," coach Kelly Snowden said. "Yet, we had fun with the game and to me that is important."