HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL Karr's 2-hitter keys Champion
The Golden Flashes beat Fairless, 5-0, in a Division III regional semifinal.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
MASSILLON -- For the second time in four seasons, the Champion High softball team is among the final eight in the state.
The Golden Flashes (21-5) overcame a case of nerves Tuesday, scoring all their runs in the second inning for a 5-0 victory over Navarre Fairless (21-6) in a Division III regional semifinal at Genshaft Park.
Kasey Karr (12-1) fired her fifth shutout of the season and third in five postseason games, as she faced one batter over the minimum, tossing a two-hitter.
Senior Lauren Seafert ignited the Flashes' big inning with a lead-off triple. She finished with two of Champion's six hits and scored the go-ahead run as the Flashes produced their runs on three hits, two walks and an error.
"This is great -- we want our senior softball season to last as long as possible," Seafert said.
Saturday at 1 p.m., Champion will face the winner of today's game between Minerva (14-12) and Cuyahoga Falls Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (16-10) for a berth in next week's state tournament at Ashland.
Fairless freshman pitcher Sammie Glick singled in the first inning, but was thrown out by catcher Alyshia Brink trying to steal second base.
In the second inning, the Falcons' Stacey Henke led off with a single. Karr, who threw a perfect game against Newton Falls in the district semifinal, retired the final 18 batters she faced.
"She's very mature," said Champion's fifth-year coach, Cheryl Weaver, of her sophomore pitcher, who finished with seven strikeouts. "When you have five runs with Kasey, you feel relaxed."
Senior shortstop Jessica Carpenter praised her teammate.
"She practices really hard and it shows," said Carpenter who had two hits and a RBI on a fielder's choice. "She's outstanding -- we would not be half as good without her all the way around. She's a good fielder, a good pitcher and a good hitter."
Carpenter admitted she was "real nervous before this game. There were so many people here. Another thing was not knowing about [Fairless]."
Getting to Glick early was key, Weaver said, because the Falcons had not trailed in tournament games.
"I was told that this could be a 1-0 ball game," Weaver said. "[Glick] keeps you off-balance -- they're going to be around for a while."
Glick's change-up struck out two of Champion's first four batters.
Seafert was ready when her turn to bat came as she jumped on Glick's first pitch and sent a shot down the right field line.
"Coach said she throws a lot of change-ups and usually the first pitch was a changeup, so that's what I was looking for," Seafert said.
After Jessica Bova walked, Brink singled to left, scoring Seafert. After a walk and a strikeout, sophomore Jaclyn Carpenter singled home Bova and Brink. Tara Shope also scored when the third baseman failed to hang on to a throw.
Carpenter took third on a passed ball and scored when catcher Carrie Winters dropped a throw from shortstop Lindsey Arney on Jessica Carpenter's fielder's choice.
Three years ago, the Flashes lost the regional final to LaGrange Keystone. A win Saturday would put the Flashes back in the state semifinals for the first time since they won the title in 1994. Champion also won state titles in 1978 and 1980.