Howland earns title shot with shutout of Chardon
The Tigers will play Boardman for the district championship.
By JOHN BUTERA
BOARDMAN -- The Howland High softball team has set the stage for a rematch of last year's Division I district championship.
With Monday's 1-0 defeat of Chardon at the Fields of Dreams, Howland (13-7) will face Boardman today at 5:30 p.m.
Howland won last year's district final 2-0.
"I'm excited," Howland coach Brian Earich said. "Nobody expected this team to get this far or even have a winning record after losing seven seniors. The kids have not been mouthing off either. They just wanted another shot."
Howland pitcher Barbie Lewis, a senior, threw a one-hitter and at one point retired 17 straight batters. She struck out 10 while throwing 65 pitches.
Lewis had Chardon down to its last strike before it managed to put a scare into Howland. Chardon's Courtney Wilson worked Lewis for a walk after fouling off several pitches.
Caitlin McCaskey smacked a hard shot to short which resulted a in two-base error and found runners on second and third. But Lewis hung tough, striking out the final batter on three pitches.
"I can't be thinking out there," said Lewis of that situation. "You just have to be prepared and get the job done. Right now I'm pumped and so excited for [today]. We're definitely ready for it."
Lewis' effort overshadowed that of Chardon pitcher Courtney Abram, who also threw a one-hitter only to see an error cost her the game.
In the second inning, Abram hit Carly Sabat with a pitch. Sabat was replaced by pinch-runner Kristen Cutlip, who stole second and scored the game's only run two outs later when Abbey Bacak's grounder was misplayed.
Chardon (8-15) got its first two batters aboard in the second inning but Lewis (13-5) began her stretch of consecutive outs.
"You kept waiting for [Chardon] to a get a hit," Earich said. "But [Lewis] has been there so many times that when the pressure is on, she shines."