The 13-14-year-old team will open tournament play Saturday in Akron.
By JAYME RAMSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
Flawless defensive execution coupled with consistent pitching and sufficient run support have been catalysts for the success of the Boardman 13-14-year-old all-star softball team and their berth in the Central Regional Tournament.
After two consecutive error-free games at the state tournament, the team advanced to the regional tournament at Akron's Firestone Park.
Boardman defeated Huber Heights 13-5 in the first round of the state tournament and beat Ashtabula 2-1 in the second round. In the championship game, Boardman defeated West Portsmouth 4-0 on Nicole Williams's two-hit, seven strikeout complete game.
Defense is key
Manager Jim Bailey, who has coached most of the girls since they were 10, said the team's defense has been stellar throughout the tournament.
"Some of the plays have been phenomenal," Bailey said. "They aren't just simple plays, they're great plays."
Members of the team are Sarah Albani, Tricia Bailey, Danielle Burin, Addie Carothers, DiAndrea DiBacco, Beth Franklin, Mallory Hay, Jocelyn Hudak, Sarah Navarro, Mara Palombaro, Kari Thompson, Nicole Williams and Katie Zetts.
Assistant coaches include Joe Carothers, Barry DiBacco and Ken Franklin.
Many of the girls from the current team played on the 10-year-old all-star team which lost to Tallmadge in the state championship. Tallmadge will play in the division opposite Boardman at this year's regional.
Boardman has to maintain its success to have a chance for a rematch with Tallmadge, Palombaro said.
"I think our coaching, our team unity and not making any errors have helped us play and helped us keep winning," said Palombaro.
The Central Regional consists of two divisions, the American Division and the National Division. Boardman will play in the National Division which is comprised of teams from Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and Michigan. The American Division consists of the host team, Tallmadge, and teams from Iowa, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. The team from Nebraska pulled out of the tournament.
Boardman will open the tournament against Pinery Park Little League from Wyoming, Michigan on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the first game of a doubleheader. They will play Lacomo Central Little League from Higginsville, Missouri at 6 p.m. for the second game.
Albani to start
Albani is scheduled to start the first game and Bailey will take the mound for the second game. Other pitchers are Williams and Hudak.
On Sunday, Boardman will play teams from Indiana and Illinois in another doubleheader.
Boardman does not have a game on Monday. On Tuesday the American Division champions play the National Division runners-up and the National Division champions play the American Division runners-up. The winners of Tuesday's games will play on Wednesday for the Central States Regional Junior Girls Softball Championship.
The winner of the regional tournament advances to the Junior League World Series in Kirkland, Washington.