Gradishar’s perfect game powers Champion

CHAMPION — You won’t often see a high school athlete signing autographs after a game, but that’s what happens when Champion junior Gabby Gradishar pitches for the Flashes.

Champion hosted Lakeview on Thursday, and Gradishar was busy signing softballs after tossing a perfect game with 14 strikeouts in a 5-0 victory for the Flashes.

“I’ve had multiple no-hitters this season and in my career,” Gradishar said. “You can’t do it without your defense behind you. Addison Warzala is an amazing catcher. I really give thanks to them. Lakeview is a tough team. They came to play today. They brought the energy, and so did we.”

The Flashes scored all five runs in the bottom of the first inning before Lakeview returned the favor and shut down Champion for the rest of the game thanks to the pitching of Ava Bacon and Paige Schwartz.

“I’m very proud of how we did today,” Lakeview coach David Kelm said. “That was five very solid innings from our team. Champion is always a tough team. They’re the reason why we have phenomenal softball in northeast Ohio.

“They’re a perennial powerhouse. They’re an awesome team that we looked forward to playing. I’m pretty sure Champion coach (Cheryl) Weaver puts a softball in every baby girl’s crib when they’re born.”

The Flashes’ legendary coach Cheryl Weaver wasn’t at the game because of an illness, but the girls overcame the absence of their leader.

“It was a little bit different,” Gradishar said. “But, we overcame the adversity and got it done. Our assistant coaches really helped out today.”

Another leader that the Flashes (15-3, 12-0) rely on is senior shortstop Isabella Meyer. Meyer is a captain, and she’s been one of the leaders for Champion for four years.

“We played the best we can today,” she said. “Gabby pitched a great game, and we came out on top. Addison Warzala, Zoe Palette and Sami Munroe all drove in runs. We rely on each other a lot. We’re so close. That brings out the best in us and determines how we play.”

The Bulldogs (15-4, 10-0) have been playing well for most of the season, and they are led by senior second baseman Makenna Werner.

“We’re doing pretty well,” she said. “We need to work on making contact and facing the speed more. We’re undefeated in the Northeast-8 Conference. We have big games coming up next week against South Range. We’re excited about those games.”

Coach Kelm is looking forward to the games against South Range (17-1, 10-0) as well.

“I’d love to win the conference,” he said. “South Range is going to have something to say about that next Monday and Tuesday. We’re going to be ready to play. We have lots of great matchups to close out our season.”

Have an interesting story? Contact the Sports Department by email at sports@tribtoday.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribChronSports.


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