Champion softball coach Cheryl Weaver earns 500th win

Champion smashes Ursuline 14-4 to give coach milestone win

Staff photo / Preston Byers Champion softball coach Cheryl Weaver smiles as she and the Golden Flashes team pose for pictures after Weaver’s 500th win Thursday.

CHAMPION — Champion softball head coach Cheryl Weaver earned her 500th career win Thursday in a 14-4 five-inning home rout of Ursuline.

Moments after scoring the final run needed to trigger the 10-run mercy rule in the bottom of the fifth inning, Weaver’s players ran to grab a banner, a bouquet of flowers and a plaque commemorating their coach’s accomplishment. The longtime coach smiled, thanked and hugged her team before gathering them to have a private conversation.

Weaver explained what she told her players during that post-game meeting.

“Just how much that I love them — each and every one. They’re all so special,” Weaver said. “Over the years, I’ve been blessed with — they know some of the girls that have won state — and these girls are just as special. And I just want them to to know that.”

More than 25 years ago, Weaver was a junior varsity coach when the Champion softball head coaching job came on the radar. Little did she know that six state championships and hundreds of wins would follow.

Weaver said her husband keeps track of her milestones and wins, so she was aware of what she was set to accomplish with Thursday’s win. But after a quarter-century of winning, No. 500 is still meaningful to Weaver.

“I just feel so lucky to have had the players that I did,” Weaver said. “And I’ve been blessed with the wonderful school and administration and the girls that come out. And the parents have been wonderful. What more can I say? This has been a wonderful 25 years.”

Champion assistant coach Brittany Allen, who played for Weaver before embarking on a college softball career, said Thursday’s win was special for her considering she was present as a player when Weaver reached 300 career wins.

“It’s awesome… To be there for 300 and be here for 500, it just means a lot. And I know she appreciates everything that these girls do for her,” Allen said.

With Penn State commit Gabby Gradishar in the circle and Ursuline still reeling from a 8-3 loss to Girard on Tuesday, win No. 500 was never really in doubt Thursday.

Gradishar overpowered the Irish batters, striking out 11 and only allowing four hits. At the plate, Gradishar hit two home runs and drove in a game-high five runs. Bella Meyer and Sam Strock also homered Thursday.

After a scoreless first inning, the Golden Flashes broke open the game with a seven-run second inning. They added three more in the third and another three in the fourth to take a 13-0 lead into the fifth inning.

Ursuline, on the verge of having the game stopped two innings early because of the double-digit lead, began to gather momentum in the top of the fifth. Leading off the inning, Kayla Sztary reached base on an error in the outfield. Gradishar then walked Adyson Wendt before Gia Schiavone singled to load the bases.

Brooke O’palick ensured Ursuline would not be shut out, slapping a two-run single to right.

Katie Koulianos followed up O’palick’s at-bat with a groundout that scored Schiavone. Catcher MacKenzie Smith then momentarily moved Ursuline out of mercy-rule territory with an RBI single to make it 13-4.

However, Champion guaranteed the game would not see a sixth inning, as Strock doubled and later scored on a Hailey Householder bunt to get the lead back up to 10, which ended the game with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.

After the game, Ursuline head coach Kristina Dugan commended both Weaver and her own team.

“She is an awesome person and has built a great program. I’m happy for her,” Dugan said of Weaver. “As for the game, they are a good hitting team and we made some errors. I’m glad we didn’t give up and started hitting the ball in the fifth.”

The Irish will now turn their attention to a meeting with Chaney, the second of the season, on Monday. Champion, which aims to win its 10th state title and seventh under Weaver, plays at Geneva on Saturday. For Weaver, though, the state championship isn’t the focus right now.

“All I want to do is see these girls win ball games, that’s all I want to do because I’m excited for them,” Weaver said. “It would be great to get back to state again. Will we? I don’t know. But as the season goes on, you hope that’s where it’s leading to.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Preston Byers by email at pbyers@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @PresByers.


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