By CURTIS PULLIAM
Kylie Ciccolelli had a simple approach to hitting against Tallmadge.
“Strikes and getting the ball on the bat,” Ciccolelli said.
She accomplished that as Ciccolelli contributed two key RBI singles and a walk as Canfield 9-10 Little League softball team advanced to the state championship game on Tuesday with an 8-6 win over Tallmadge at Fields of Dreams.
“It’s very exciting,” Ciccolelli said.
A trip to the finals wasn’t easy for Canfield, as it fell behind 3-0 in the third inning. An RBI single by Gia Casalinova and a two-run error was the reason for the early deficit.
It was at that point Canfield manager Marty Fitzgerald gathered his team.
“It’s something we weren’t use to in this tournament,” Fitzgerald said. “They have a really good pitcher, but our girls refuse to quit.”
Canfield responded in the bottom half of the third. After a strikeout, Bayann Jadallah and Parker Wilkins drew walks. Emma Castronova singled to score Jadallah. Lauren Fitzgerald followed with a two-run single to tie the game at 3. Ciccolelli collected her first single giving Canfield a 4-3 lead. Canfield added two more in the frame to push its lead to three.
Tallmadge made it 6-4 as Lexi Clements came home on a wild pitch in the fourth. But Canfield answered that run with two more of its own, including the second run-scoring single by Ciccolelli.
“Everybody stepped up and did something,” Marty Fitzgerald said. “And then we got some key hits.”
Tallmadge added two runs on a inside-the-park home run, but Lauren Fitzgerald shut the door in the sixth. She pitched all six innings and struck out 11.
“Lauren was in a groove,” Fitzgerald said. “They did hit the ball but I just felt that Lauren was our best option in this situation.”
Canfield plays the winner of a game today between Coal Grove and Tallmadge.
For Boardman’s 10-11 softball team, Emma Ericson was confident about her team going into the state semifinal game at Boardman’s Fields of Dreams.
“I thought that we had it,” Ericson said. “We (the team) watched them yesterday and thought we would be all right.”
Katherine O’Horo reached base three times and Ericson threw a one-hitter as the Boardman 10-11 team advanced in the state tournament with an 11-1 win over Tallmadge in four innings.
The win puts Boardman in to the championship game on Tuesday.
“It feels good,” said Boardman manager Eric Ericson. “A lot of these girls have been involved with Boardman community baseball since they were 5-6 years old. So this is reaching the pinnacle to what they’ve been looking forward to.”
O’Horo led off the game with a single. Two batters later, Emma Ericson drove her in with a single. Katie Stamp drove home Ericson for an early 2-0 lead.
In the second, walks, passed balls and another single by Ericson resulted in four more runs and a 6-0 lead.
Tallmadge scored a run in the third, but Boardman tacked on six more runs in bottom half to make at 11-1.
The game was ended after four innings because of Little League’s “mercy.”
Boardman needs one win to be state champs. Its opponent would have to win twice Tuesday.
“Leave it all out there,” Ericson said about the first game Tuesday. “We don’t want to leave anything to chance.”