NORTON — The Wadsworth softball team could not heat up its bats on a cold and damp afternoon at the Barberton Sports Complex.
Third-seeded Walsh Jesuit, on the other hand, knocked the ball around the park and Riley Zana threw a shutout to upend the second-seeded Grizzlies 10-0 in six innings in a Barberton Division I District semifinal.
The Warriors (13-2) advanced to the championship game for the third time in four years and will face fifth-seeded and defending champion Brunswick (13-12) on Wednesday.
“They are a very good team, and they always are,” Wadsworth coach Mike Schmeltzer Sr. said. “Walsh is usually the team to beat to get out of this district every year.”
The defeat did not dampen what seven seniors accomplished for Wadsworth (19-7), including competing for league and district championships.
“It was a positive season and we’ve grown as a team,” third baseman Rynn Rench said. “We had to replace the whole infield because most of them graduated, and we really stepped up this year and I’m so proud of us.”
Rench is joined by second baseman Jenna Skinner, catcher Maddie Long, left fielder Shelby Mayes, shortstop Jess Ryan, center fielder Cassidy McDougal and pitcher Emily Cingle as graduating players.
“I’ve been with these kids for four years and it’s been a great four-year ride,” Schmeltzer said. “They’ve won a (Suburban League National Conference) championship, they’ve been district runners-up. It’s just been a good ride with these seven kids.”
Walsh Jesuit took the lead with a pair of home runs in the second inning. After third baseman Madeline Schmeiser led off with a walk, junior Julia Bentley sent the second pitch from Cingle (15-3) soaring over the center field fence. Designated player Marisa Cartellone took a 2-2 offering the other way for a solo shot and 3-0 lead.
“(Cingle) actually didn’t throw badly,” Schmeltzer said. “That one (Cartellone) hit to right field for a home run, that was six inches outside, and we intentionally threw it there and she still crushed it.”
The Warriors picked up where they left off in the third to score four runs on three hits, with Bentley ripping an RBI double before first baseman Angela Vitantonio roped a two-run single for a 7-0 lead.
Armed with a deceptive changeup, Zana kept the Grizzlies off the basepaths early, with a Rench leadoff single the only hit through three innings.
Wadsworth’s first scoring threat came when first baseman Jessi Voitko smoked a double to left in the fourth and designated player Emma Spoerke followed with a single to right to put runners on the corners. Zana forced Ryan to pop up to Schmeiser and struck out McDougal to end the threat.
“We realized we were just getting in our heads and we just had to play our game like we’ve played this season,” Voitko said.
Schmeiser hit a three-run double in the sixth to put the Warriors up 10-0 before the Grizzlies threatened for the last time. Rench doubled and Voitko singled for their second hits of the game, but Zana coaxed pop outs from the next two hitters.
Walsh Jesuit 10, Wadsworth 0 (6 inn.)
Barberton Division I District Semifinals
WALSH JESUIT 034 003 — 10 10 1
WADSWORTH 000 000 — 0 5 0
WP — Riley Zana 6 innings, walk, hit by pitch, 6 strikeouts. LP — Emily Cingle (15-3) 3 innings, 7 runs, 7 earned, 5 hits, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts. Walsh Jesuit (13-2) — Kristen Kuhrt single, 2 runs; Madeline Schmeiser double, walk, 4 RBIs; Julia Bentley double, home run, 3 RBIs, 2 runs; Angela Vitantonio single, 2 RBIs; Marisa Cartellone home run, RBI. Wadsworth (19-7) — Rynn Rench single, double; Jessi Voitko single, double.