HAWKS FINISH 2ND IN A WILD STATE FINAL
Lakota East’s bid for its first-ever state softball title came to a heartbreaking end Sunday afternoon, June 1st at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
The Thunderhawks, leading Louisville, 9-6, with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, were one strike away from hoisting the championship trophy. But Louisville left fielder Justina Sirohman ripped a full-count pitch into right-center field for a bases-clearing double to tie the game, 9-9.
Lakota East let another golden opportunity slip away in the bottom of the ninth. Kylee West wheeled all the way from first to score on Hailey Holtman’s game-tying double with only one out. Holtman advanced to third on the throw home. The Thunderhawks had the game-winning run 60 feet away with only one out but left fielder Madison Cureton fouled out and Cassidy Hudson grounded out to end the frame.
Louisville pulled away with a four-run 10th inning, highlighted by a sacrifice fly from Teagan Rice and run-scoring singles from Kaylee Nolte and Sirohman. Lakota East went quietly in the bottom of the frame and Louisville capped the comeback as 14-10 winners.
The game originally started at 4 p.m. on Saturday and was ultimately postponed until Sunday after a pair of weather delays, the first of which lasted over two hours.
The game resumed with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the sixth inning. Abby Niehaus singled, then designated player Cali Hoffman launched a two-run home run to left field for a pair of insurance runs that appeared to be enough to give the Thunderhawks the title.
In her next at-bat, Hoffman nearly won the game with a home run to left field, but her deep drive was caught at the wall by Sirohman.
In the Saturday portion of the contest, Lakota East saw a five-run advantage gradually disappear. Aided by four Louisville errors and clutch hits by West (two-run single) and Niehaus (two-run double), the Thunderhawks built a 7-2 lead after two innings.
But Louisville’s high-powered offense, which scored 48 runs in its previous six postseason games, could not be sedated.
The Leopards gingerly chipped into Lakota East’s five-run advantage, scoring once in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth inning.
First baseman Alex Frankhauser hit a two-run homer in the second that made it a 3-2 game, then Sirohman went yard in the fourth to make it 7-4.
A third-inning threat was decelerated when Cureton threw out Rice at the plate on an RBI single by Kaycee Ollis.
Louisville pitcher Sarah Cantley helped her own cause with an RBI single in the fifth to make it 7-5. Pinch-hitter Shae Thomas, the first batter after the initial weather delay in the top of the sixth inning, launched a solo homer to left to pull within a run.
Cantley, a Canisius College signee, went 3-for-3 with two walks and scored three times. The senior launched a solo home run on the first pitch of the ninth inning to give Louisville its first lead at 10-9.
After giving up seven runs (four earned) over the first two innings, Cantley kept the Leopards in the game, yielding three runs and six hits over the final eight frames.
Lakota East’s Sydney Larson, an Ohio University signee, finishes the season 22-2 and her prep career at 48-10. She was a three-time first-team Greater Miami Conference selection.
Lakota East was vying to become Greater Cincinnati’s first-ever Division I state softball champion since the OHSAA switched to a divisional format in 1990. Hamilton won a big-school, Class AAA title in 1985. Cincinnati has now sent a Division I team to the state tournament in 23 of the last 24 years, but they have combined to go 0-8 in state finals.
Lakota East was in the state tournament for the first time since 2010. They battled the GMC gauntlet to a 30-2 record and a regional-final victory over Lakota West, last year’s Division I state runner-up.
THANK YOU GIRL SOFTBALL FOR A SEASON NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN!