Flashing their Bats
Champion run-rules opponent in regional title game
May 29, 2018
Sports Reporter - Marc Weems
MASSILLON — For the seventh time in Cheryl Weaver’s time as varsity softball coach, Champion High School will be playing in the state final four.
Champion (28-0) defeated Independence, 13-3, in five innings on Saturday to win the Division III Massillon Regional title game. The Golden Flashes will face Williamsburg or North Union in the state semifinals at Akron Firestone Stadium on Friday at 3 p.m.
Champion, the away team on Saturday, came out firing. They scored nine runs in the top half of the first inning. That included two hits.
“Well let’s see. Oh my! We went in ’04, ’06, ’11, ’12, ’15, ’17 and now,” Weaver said about the state tournament appearances she’s made as coach. “The girls just came out. They wanted this game, big game. We looked at what the pitcher had and we found that she had a changeup.”
Weaver also mentioned the Golden Flashes had learned of a quote, apparently from Independence, on a high school sports web site that said “We’re ready to break some hearts.”
The early outburst probably had more to do with practice on Friday.
“We had a two-hour hitting practice yesterday (Friday). I think that was one of the reasons that we came out the way we did,” Champion pitcher Allison Smith said. “We did not hit as well as we wanted to on Wednesday. My dad is a lefty and so was the pitcher so we got to see some live action of sorts.”
For Independence (24-3), it was a tough day at the office. After trailing 13-0 going into the bottom of the third inning, the Blue Devils fought back a bit.
Kim Peca singled and then Sarah Piteo doubled. Maggie George then singled as both runners scored to trail 13-2. A little later, George scored on an overthrown ball back to the pitcher to trail 13-3. Independence did not score again.
“I give them (Independence) credit. They stayed up and fought hard. A lot of teams might have just gone down and they kept fighting,” Weaver said.
For Champion’s seniors, this will be the third time in four years that they will have the chance to compete for a state championship. They have seen all types of things over the last four years.
“No matter what, we are always ready to hit. We all have a goal and that goal is to get back to state. It is sort of like tradition,” senior shortstop Megan Turner said. “We have to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Turner said that losing to South Range in the regional during her sophomore season (2016) — when the Golden Flashes were defending state champs — helped get this team to where it is now.
As defending state champions again this spring, the Flashes have a shot at repeating the back-to-back titles they won in 2011-12.