Boardman falls in sectional championship with 16-14 defeat to Uniontown Lake

Staff photo / Neel Madhavan. Boardman's Tori Strines puts the ball in play during Wednesday's sectional championship against Uniontown Lake.

BOARDMAN — Despite a fast start, Boardman couldn’t overcome Uniontown Lake’s parade of bats on Wednesday.

The Blue Streaks came out on top of a shootout, ending the Spartans’ season 16-14 in the Division I, Northeast 3 district sectional championship game.

“I knew that team could hit the ball,” Boardman head coach Fred Mootz said. “In the last 12 games, they’re 10-2 and I think they were averaging 10.5 runs per game. So we knew coming in that we had to score runs. I didn’t think it would be a (30)-run type game, but at the end of the day, we gotta make plays on defense. We fell short on the defensive end, but a team like this puts a lot of pressure on you, especially at the top of their lineup with two slap hitters. One through nine, they can really hit the ball.”

Boardman started things off with two runs in the first inning thanks to a 2-run homer by Madison Wymer, then added to its lead in the bottom of the second with two more RBIs from Wymer, along with an RBI from both Mikayla Rivera and Alex Ward.

At that point, Boardman led 6-2. But despite the early deficit, Lake managed to keep pace with the Spartans.

The Blue Streaks tightened things up with two runs in the top of the third and then finally managed to blow things open in the fourth. Lake batted well around the order with eight runs off six hits, capitalizing off a Boardman error and the Spartans’ struggles to get the outs they needed to end the inning.

For the game, Lake finished with 15 total hits, with three hits apiece coming from Bella Barr and Kenna Miller, who also combined for six RBIs.

“Our bats have been on fire all season, so I knew my girls were going to get going,” Lake head coach Grace Franjesevic said. “They were aggressive at the plate and I expect nothing less from them. We’ve got speed and we’ve got hard hitters. So that made all the difference for us, for sure.”

After a pair of empty innings, Boardman trailed 13-6 heading to the bottom of the fifth, but the Spartans weren’t done just yet.

Lake pulled starter Gianna Greathouse to rest her shoulder due to the number of innings she’s pitched in recent weeks, and in came reliever Peyton Ury.

After a quick fly out to open the inning, Ury had three straight walks, followed by back-to-back hit-by-pitch walks that scored two Boardman runs. An RBI sac fly from Ward added another run for the Spartans, before Kenzie Cherre hit a three-run blast that put the exclamation point on a much-needed six-run inning for Boardman. The Spartans had fought their way back, as their rally made it a one-run game with two innings to play.

“We told them, we still got a lot of game left. We just gotta keep battling,” Mootz said. “Kenzie Cherne, obviously an unbelievable day today. This kid’s been playing JV all year and she’s been killing the ball, so I brought her up for a sectional championship game and put her in the lineup and she delivered.”

Ury, who has a heart condition, according to Franjesevic, made way for Greathouse once again, who finished out the game.

“She’s only been able to pitch three innings a game for us, so she just hasn’t been able to be as consistently pitching,” Franjesevic said. “I definitely wanted to get her some opportunities tonight, but when we started seeing things not going so well, we went back to our original gameplan (with Greathouse).”

Lake’s bats went to work once again in the sixth inning, as the Blue Streaks added three runs, including a two-run double from Kenna Miller.

But Boardman still had a chance in the bottom of the seventh after preventing Lake from scoring any runs in the top of the inning for the first time all game.

Three straight walks from Greathouse loaded the bases for the Spartans, and they scored one run off an RBI from Leah Habeger. But an interference call between second and third base became Boardman’s first out, which then snowballed with a fly out from Tori Strines.

With two runners on, and two outs, Lake chose to intentionally walk Wymer and load the bases. But then Greathouse was able to get the final strikeout to help the Blue Streaks advance to face Massillon Jackson in the district semifinal next week.

“We tend to get a little nervous, just like any team. They’re high schoolers, they get worried about making a mistake and were playing on edge,” Franjesevic said. “I just told them to settle down. We had it. We needed an out and they did it, they pulled it out.”

Boardman ends what was an up-and-down season at 13-13.

However, despite graduating seven seniors, only one of those played against Lake. So the Spartans will return a significant portion of their starting core next season.

“(The season) went kind of the way I expected a little bit,” Mootz said. “We struggled at times offensively and defensively. It felt like when the hitting was off, the pitching was there, and when the pitching was off, the hitting was there. So that was the difference. We did finish strong, but I have a lot of young talent that I’m bringing back. Next year, the future’s bright. (Lake) is a little bit more seasoned then we are right now. So I think when we’re in this spot next year, it’ll be a different outcome.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Neel Madhavan by email at nmadhavan@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @NeelMadhavan.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today