Lightning strikes twice at state for Champion’s Golden Flashes

Those awe-inspiring Golden Flashes once again have bolted out lightning-powered talent, speed and finesse to dazzle us as 2012 spring softball champions in Ohio.

We congratulate the Champion High School girls’ squad, their coaching staff and their fans for a job well done in clinching their second consecutive Division III Ohio title earlier this month. We also tip our hats to the Valley’s other 2012 strong state softball teams — the Mathews Mustangs and Poland Bulldogs — and to an array of track and field stars from throughout the Valley. All of the teams and individuals soared to high-echelon competition and solidified our region’s reputation as a powerhouse for superlative high school athleticism.

Champion’s senior pitcher Lindsay Swipas secured the Flashes’ place in Ohio sports history with her potent pitching in the title game against the Bloom-Carroll Bulldogs at Fire- stone Park in Akron. She allowed no runs in the team’s 2-0 one-hit shutout win against the same team that defeated the Flashes at state six years ago by the identical score. That revenge was sweetened more by the fact that Champion clinched its fifth state softball title, the most of any Division III team in the Buckeye State.

Two other seniors helped seal the deal for the Golden Flashes. Alison Sorber had an RBI in her final high-school game, and Haley McAllister pounded out two strong hits.

Flashes Coach Cheryl Weaver, who has led the seniors over their extraordinary careers, says it best about the camaraderie and prowess of her tight-knit team : “If any group of girls deserved it — it was this group.”

Also deserving of accolades are the players and coaches of another superior Trumbull County softball squad: The Mathews High School Mustangs, Division IV runners-up for the state championship. The Mustangs were making their debut trip to the state tournament but fell to the longtime superstars in their division, the Convoy Crestview Knights. The Knights have made 10 trips to state and are 2-3 in state championship games.

Despite the Knights’ history, Mathews lagged last year’s state runners-up by just one run in the sixth inning. We join Coach Jim Nicula and team members who are confident that the young squad has started a winning tradition that will continue for many years to come.

In Division II state play, the mercurial Poland Bulldogs had a bittersweet ending to their 2012 season. The Bulldogs, making their third consecutive trip to state on the heels of last year’s Ohio championship, were defeated by Keystone High 4-0 in the state semifinal game in Akron.

Nonetheless, the team’s 27-3 record speaks volumes of its tenacity and talent this season. The team loses through retirement this year its indefatigable coach Reid Lamport who has mentored the Bulldogs through 27 seasons and four state trips, including the past three seasons. The Bulldogs will miss the expertise of their seasoned and talented coach, but we’re certain they will continue their winning ways as well.

Our Valley’s track superstars

Off of the softball diamonds, however, Valley athletes creamed their competition as well.

They were led by Salem’s Anthony Shivers, who unleashed a discus throw of more than 190 feet on his first attempt to easily win the Division II boys state championship in the event.

In Division II, Lauren Schattinger of Lake- view finished second in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and Sage Spottleson of Poland was third in the 100 hurdles.

Among smaller schools, Springfield’s Stephen Lyons won the shot put, Wyatt Hartman of Maplewood finished second in the 1600-meter in Division III, and Badger’s Jennilyn Krumpe won the girls 400.

Collectively those hard-hitting softball champs in Champion, Fowler-Vienna and Poland and medal-winning track-and-field superstars bring glory to their schools, their communities and the entire Mahoning Valley.

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