Champion softball rolls to another D-III district title
By DANTE CENTOFANTI
There is just no stopping the Champion High School softball team.
Not yet, anyway.
The Golden Flashes breezed to their fourth consecutive Division III district championship with a 9-0 victory over All-American Conference Blue Tier rival LaBrae on Wednesday on the Vikings’ home field.
Allison Smith struck out 14 and pitched a one-hitter as Champion — the defending state champs in Division III — improved to 25-0.
“We got two great ones and they know they got a defense around them,” said Golden Flashes head coach Cheryl Weaver, referring to Smith and fellow pitcher Sophie Howell.
Champion also has quite the offense. The Golden Flashes did all of their scoring in a nine-run third inning that provided more than enough runs for Smith, who improved to 13-0. Smith — also one of the Golden Flashes’ top hitters — didn’t get to swing the bat. LaBrae intentionally walked her each time up.
“We have played them two times in the past and that’s what they’ve done,” said Smith, who has committed to Ohio State.
Abbi Grace singled, doubled and drove in two runs for Champion. Abby White, Carli Swipas and Gabby Hollenbaugh each had a double for the Golden Flashes. Cassidy Shaffer added two RBIs.
Arianna Geordan took the loss for LaBrae (12-11). She allowed six hits and walked eight.
The Golden Flashes will meet Manchester in a regional semifinal at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Massillon Washington High School.
Champion is chasing its eighth state championship since the program’s inception in 1978. The Golden Flashes recently notched 800 all-time victories and Weaver, their coach since 2000, has led them to half of those wins.
If Champion doesn’t get to the state tournament, it’s almost a disappointing season.
“I think that’s a wonderful standard to have, and it’s bragging rights,” Weaver said. “It’s a blessing we have.”
Smith helped in last year’s state championship run as a freshman.
“Every day in practice we are working for that,” she said.
So what would be sweeter: duplicating the feat or the first experience as a freshman?
“A state championship either way is awesome,” Smith said.