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Cards take command heading into tourney

May 9, 2012
By Nik Zirounis , Town Crier correspondent

A couple of commanding wins over new conference rival Fitch have given the Canfield softball team some momentum heading into the Division II state tournament.

Canfield clobbered Fitch 11-0 on May 1 in the home part of a home-in-home series then came back a couple days later to fry the Falcons 13-2 in front of the Fitch home crowd. That pair of near perfect victories has put the Lady Cardinals 7-2 in the Red Tier and an incredible 16-4 overall. It has also put the Cardinals in prime condition for their playoff opener on May 9. Thanks to its remarkable record, Canfield has been granted the number two seed in the Alliance Region of the tournament therefore earning a first round bye. The Cardinals were to host the winner of the game between Niles and Hubbard in its first tournament tilt.

Whoever advanced to meet Canfield hopefully had a lot of pitchers ready to fill the circle because the Cards have been scorching opposing hurlers lately. Ask Fitch -- who gave up 24 runs to the Canfield ladies in just 12 innings. It took only four innings in the May 1 win over Fitch for Canfield to collect 11 runs. The game was stopped after five innings due to the Mercy Rule, which is ironic since the Cardinals certainly showed their visitors no mercy whatsoever. Of course, the Canfield girls only needed one of those 11 runs because starting pitcher Alexa Schmidt was slinging balls of fire at the Fitch hitters. Schmidt spun a complete game two-hit gem to pick up the win. Sarah Vrabel backed her with a home run and had three RBIs. Kara Rothbauer ripped it at the plate as well and knocked home two runs. Abby Baker and Rachel Tinkey each contributed a pair of hits.

A couple days after scoring 11 runs versus Fitch, the Cardinals came back and ascended in Austintown. Canfield scored seven runs to start the game then allowed Fitch to start fighting back with a two-run bottom of the first. Canfield put the contest away in the second inning when it crossed the plate four more times for an 11-2 lead. This time, it was Laura Beck who took the grand tour for the Cards hitting a two-run homer. Kayley Keller also had a big extra base hit with a triple. Schmidt stopped Fitch's offense after the opening inning and worked her second straight complete game against the Austintown kids.

With Schmidt pitching like a number one starter and veteran leaders like Vrabel, Beck and Gina Mancini mashing the ball it seems that the Lady Cards could be in complete control come tournament time. Before the regional commences Canfield still has battles left with Boardman who has its own first round bye in the Division I tournament so that should act as a nice tune up for the tourney. It should not really matter who the Cards played in the playoff opener because both Niles and Hubbard seem inferior to the talent on Canfield's roster. The Cardinals already rammed the Red Dragons 10-0 on April 12. Hubbard and Canfield did not play this season.



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