By JIM FLICK
Champion advanced to the championship game of the Division III district softball tournament by defeating Pymatuning Valley, 5-1, on Monday.
The championship game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. today at JAGS Field in Jefferson. Champion will play South Euclid Regina in the title game. Regina defeated Chagrin Falls 9-8 in Monday’s other semifinal.
Leading the Flashes on Monday was pitcher Lindsay Swipas, who struck out 17 while pitching a complete game to raise her record to 12-1.
Swipas also delivered on offense, smashing three doubles and a single to drive in three runs.
Shortstop Tawny Rogers also played a big role in the win, blasting two home runs for Champion (25-1).
“Lindsay kept that team down and our bats came through,” said Champion coach Cheryl Weaver. “You can’t ask for more than that.”
Regarding Swipas’ dominant pitching performance, Weaver said, “She mixes it up and hits her spots.”
“I was just throwing my usual variety of pitches, and I had the defense behind me,” Swipas said. “It’s not really a big deal to me. The important thing is that we got the win.”
The Champion pitcher explained that her repertoire includes four different pitches. Batters facing Swipas don’t know whether to expect a fastball, a screwball, a changeup or a rise ball.”
Swipas struck out the first three batters she faced Monday. Twelve of 15 batters struck out before the first hit by a Py Valley batter.
Ironically, the Lakers’ first hit of the game was a fifth-inning double by Swipas’ opposite number, pitcher Sarah Urchek. Urchek subsequently scored Py Valley’s only run on a single by center fielder Jenna Lower.
After giving up a single to lead off the seventh, Swipas ended the game by striking out three consecutive Lakers.
Rogers said she wasn’t swinging for the fences.
“I really don’t try to hit home runs,” said the Flashes’ shortstop, who leads the team in home runs with seven for the season. “I just want to do my job — get on base and move some runners around.
Instead, she started the scoring when she led off the bottom of the second with a home run to left-center.
The bases were empty again when Rogers stepped to the plate in the fifth inning. For a second time, she smacked the ball over the fence.
Rogers’ first home run was only the start of the Flashes’ offensive outburst. Alison Sorber followed Rogers’ blast with a single, and scored on a single by Morgan White.
Swipas smashed a double to drive home White and Darian Rogers, who had reached base on an error.
Champion scored the final run of the game in the bottom of the sixth. Hayley McAllister singled and scored on Swipas’ third double.