NORTON — Rebecca Zemanek plays for the Brunswick softball team but has a second home at the Barberton Sports Complex.
The sophomore returned to the circle she owns Monday and lifted the fifth-seeded Blue Devils to a 5-1 upset of top-seeded Medina in a Barberton Division I District semifinal.
She’ll try to do it again Wednesday for the reigning district champions against third-seeded Walsh Jesuit (13-2) after the Warriors beat second-seeded Wadsworth 10-0 in six innings.
“‘Z’ is a very mind-setted kid,” said Brunswick coach Julie Salzman, whose team improved to 13-12 said. “When her mind is there, she’s all game. We’ve witnessed it in this very circle. She doesn’t let outside things bother her. She doesn’t let crowds bother her. She just throws her game. As long as her game is on Wednesday, I think we’ll be fine.”
Zemanek has pitched three games at the complex and is 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA.
More than that, Zemanek (5-5) has been lights out in the Barberton District in general during her career. She is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA and 15 strikeouts in sectional and district play.
“When I go to different places, the most important thing to me is the pitcher’s mound,” she said. “It’s what I focus on. When I drag and it’s too deep, it’s tough for me. This one is level, so I can really get my push foot off faster. I’m familiar to the place. I’ve pitched here three times. It helps knowing my surroundings.”
It helped against the Bees (21-5), who managed just five hits against the left-hander.
Zemanek struck out two and walked two in the complete game. Some of that had to do with being familiar with her surroundings, but some of it had to do with being familiar with the team she was facing.
While Zemanek hadn’t pitched against Medina this season, Brunswick and the Bees are Greater Cleveland Conference foes, so she was very familiar with the lineup after watching 3-2 and 7-1 losses.
Medina made Brunswick work this time.
Becky Hurosky gave the Blue Devils a short-lived 1-0 lead with an opposite-field home run in the first, but the Bees’ Anna Aquino tied things with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the inning.
Everything changed in the fifth, when Brunswick scored on a two-out single by Natalie Galaida that plated Olivia Campbell.
Medina loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom half and looked like it had all the momentum, but Alyssa Herbst caught a line drive off the bat of Sam Masi to end the threat.
“We have a saying that says, ‘If you win the fifth, you win the game,”’ Medina coach Jessica Toocheck said. “They won the fifth, and they won the game. They took the momentum on their side and made some great plays defensively. They were the better team today.”
While the Bees’ postseason ended prematurely, the regular season is far from over with GCC games at Shaker Heights today and at Mentor on Thursday. If the Bees win one those, they’ll win the league outright.
“This is a special group, and the girls really love the time they have with each other,” Toocheck said. “They’re lucky they have some games left and can make their mark in conference.”
Brunswick faces a Walsh Jesuit squad that has played in the district finals in four of the last five seasons. Ohio State commit Riley Zana (9-2) is the probable starter.
“We know nothing about them other than they’re good every year,” Salzman said. “These kids have the talent when they come to play. We need to bring our best game on Wednesday.”
Brunswick 5, Medina 1
Barberton Division I District Semifinal
BRUNSWICK 100 010 3 — 5 10 2
MEDINA 100 000 0 — 1 5 2
WP — Rebecca Zemanek (5-5) 7 innings, earned run, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts. LP — Kylie Hosey (11-3) 3 innings, 4 runs, 1 earned, 4 hits, walk, 4 strikeouts. Brunswick (13-12) — Becky Hurosky 2 singles, home run, RBI, 2 runs; Olivia Campbell double, run. Medina (21-5) — Alexa Nau 2 singles, run.