The Panthers blew an early 4-1 lead against the Redskins.
By MARK W. MILLER
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
KENT -- It was an unusual game, with 11 walks, six stolen bases, five wild pitches, four fielder's choices, six errors, two hit batsmen and nine hits, one a fluke triple.
And when the strange contest ended, Cuyahoga Heights High clipped Bristol 8-6 Thursday in a Division IV regional softball semifinal at Kent State University.
Bristol (19-3) scored two runs in the third inning on a walk, stolen base, fielder's choice and two errors.
The Panthers added two more in the fourth on two walks and a wild pitch and a two-run single by Amber Rasmussen.
Redskins rally from behind
Trailing 4-1, the Redskins (20-8) got a single from Becky Cash, who was out at second on a fielder's choice, with Dana Hartman reaching first. Hartman advanced to second on a passed ball then Jessica Carpenter walked. Kim Skully's hard hit bounced over the infield and rolled out into deep center with Hartman and Carpenter scoring. Skully then scored on a ground out to tie the score at 4.
With the score tied 6-6, the Redskins got the deciding runs in the bottom of the sixth on a walk, sacrifice, error, stolen base, another walk to load the bases and a two-run single by Lauren Walko.
"Its been a magical season for us," said Cuyahoga Heights coach Ron Meffley. "We started the season 1-4 and have won 16 of our last 18 games.
"We've been playing fast pitch only four years. From 1982 until 1998 we played slow pitch.
"Candice Lea (19-7) has been our starting pitcher for four years and she persevered to see it through today.
"The bad bounce triple changed the tempo for us. Our kids look for the big breaks and take advantage of them," said Meffley.
Bristol's Sarah Henry, a sophomore, relived Jamie Maraczi (17-2) in the sixth inning and allowed two walks and an error, which loaded the bases.
Maraczi, also a sophomore, then came back in to pitch and gave up the two-run single.
Bristol coach Debbie Rowels said, "Sarah had been out since the second week of the season with a shoulder problem and we thought she would do all right, so we put her in.
"I think we were nervous and the kids got a little down when they went ahead," said Rowels.
Future looks bright
"Our kids did a great job all season and we'll graduate only two seniors. I'll have both my pitchers back, so the future looks bright for us."
The Panthers also reached the regional semifinals in 1984, '85 and '88 and lost on each of those occasions.
Although they managed only four hits, two of them by Walko, Meffley said, "Our kids get along good together. We noticed that they are quiet, focused and it's serious business to them.
"There are no stars, they just play will together. The girls believe in themselves and think good things will happen."