Next: Boardman vs. Massillon Jackson, today, 5 p.m.
By Jon Moffett
Casi Rohr has placed a lot of pressure on herself this season.
After all, she’s the lone senior on the Perry High softball team. And she’s the pitcher — the quarterback of the infield. But she’s learning to relax and let things come to her.
Or, let things come to her teammates. Like, the ball.
A shutdown defense, led by nine Rohr strikeouts, led the Panthers past Boardman High 2-0 in Monday’s Federal League contest at the Fields of Dreams.
That defense gives Rohr, who pitched her team to a state championship last spring, all the confidence she needs to succeed.
“It makes me feel good to know that if a girl hits a ball that my defense is going to be there behind me, because they can’t just rely on me the whole time,” Rohr said. “So it’s kind of a mutual relationship; they rely on me, and I rely on them.”
The Panthers (9-5) went up against Boardman ace Alex DiDomenico (9-4), who also had a strong outing. The Spartans (9-6) and the visitors were deadlocked at zero in a classic pitchers’ duel until the sixth inning.
The game started to fall apart when DiDomenico surrendered a hit — one of only three she’d allow — to Perry’s Shelbi Tilton, who then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
With two outs, Rachel Montgomery shot a liner down the left-field line. Boardman third baseman Julie Obrych got a glove on it, but the ball ricochetted into left field. Tilton and Jayla Saibene, who had been hit by a pitch in her at bat, scored.
Boardman coach Mike Trell said if it weren’t for a couple of perfectly-positioned hits, including one that screeched by the glove hand of DiDomineco, the outcome could have been very different.
But he added the his team is playing for the long haul and one or two missteps isn’t going to detail the season.
“You don’t really want to peak yet. We’ll try to peak toward the district and regionals and worry about it then,” Trell said. “Now that being said, every game is an experience for us. We’re just trying to get better every day.”
Trell said because of the rough weather, and because the school doesn’t have its own field or inside facility, the Spartans have only practiced on dirt twice this year. He said his team is still working through some kinks in a marathon to the bigger prize.
“This whole things is a marathon. You’re going to play 27 or 28 games, plus three or four in the district and regional,” he said. “So it’s a long season yet. And May is going to be really long because we’re going to play every day. We’re just hoping to get better.”
Rohr said her team, too, has its sights on the bigger picture.
“Even though we kind of came out a little weak to start with, I think we have just as much potential,” she said.