AKRON — The 32nd annual Barney Ellis All-Star Games marked one last time for nine Medina County softball players to lace up the cleats this season, throw the school uniform on and hopefully get on the right side of the scoreboard.
The middle game Monday at Firestone Stadium went to Cloverleaf’s Emily Whitehair and the Metro All-Stars, who beat Medina’s Alexa Nau, Wadsworth’s Emily Cingle and Highland’s Autumn Chorba, Jenna Parker and Paige Berkmeyer and the Suburban All-Stars 8-7.
The showcase game went to the Stark County All-Stars, who beat Cloverleaf’s Hailey Eckelberry and Wadsworth’s Jenna Skinner and Rynn Rench and the Summit All-Stars 3-0.
The three games were more than that, however, as memories were made and friendships cemented.
“I loved it,” Whitehair said. “I’d play softball every day if I could. Next year, I’ll need to be a leader and push everybody to do their best and help them out. Today meant everything to me. My junior year is up. That was a nice ending to the season.”
Whitehair might still be smiling after going 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
While the two RBIs in the seventh seemed inconsequential in what was an 8-4 contest, they wound up being the biggest runs of the game.
Fittingly, she recorded the last out at third on a groundball from Tallmadge’s Kennedy Rorar.
Even the girls on the wrong side of the score had fun.
Cingle’s season finished in the district semifinals in a 10-0 loss to eventual Barberton Division I District champion Walsh Jesuit.
The senior came to Firestone and opened the game with two innings of no-hit ball that included three strikeouts. She was 0-for-3 but had an RBI.
“I was just happy to put this jersey on one last time and represent my school well,” Cingle said. “I did good in the circle — not so good in the box — but I did what I had to do to help this team. It was fun playing with them.
“I made some really good friends in the dugout. I only knew three of them walking in and became friends with all of them. We had good chemistry and worked well together.”
Parker finished her day 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run.
Like Cingle, the game was all about fastballs and excitement.
“They made the game for me really just cheering,” Parker said. “We didn’t know each other’s name. We were just screaming each other’s numbers. It was really fun to be a part of it. I’m so happy to end the season like this.”
Chorba was 1-for-3 with a double, Berkmeyer went 0-for-1 with a run and Nau was 0-for-2.
In the nightcap, a familiar name to county residents did in the Summit All-Stars when Perry’s Payton Gotshall scored the only run her team needed on a home run to left in the second.
Five Stark pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter.
Gotshall picked up the save. The senior struck out all six batters she faced as Stark pitchers combined for 13 K’s.
One of Summit’s hits belonged to Skinner, who singled to right in the third inning.
“I just walked up there, had fun and wasn’t thinking,” Skinner said. “I wanted to go out good since it’s my last game ever and I left it all out there.”
Eckelberry went 0-for-2 with a stolen base. Rench finished 0-for-2.
Metro 8, Suburban 7
METRO 000 300 5 — 8 7 3
SUBURBAN 004 000 3 — 7 9 3
WP — Haley Doll (Manchester) 4 innings, 3 runs, 2 earned, 5 hits, 4 strikeouts. LP — Autumn Chorba (Highland) 2 innings, 5 runs, 1 earned, 4 hits, walk, strikeout. Metro — Claire Brokloff (Revere) 2 singles, 2 runs, stolen base; Leah Bova (Twinsburg) 2 singles, RBI, run; Emily Whitehair (Cloverleaf) double, 2 RBIs; Suburban — Kennedy Rohrer (Tallmadge) triple; Kylie Lewis (Norton) 2 singles, RBI; Chorba double.
Star 3, Summit 0
SUMMIT 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
STARK 012 000 x — 3 4 0
WP — Jessica LeBeau (Lake) 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 6 strikeouts. LP — Emily Pratt (Tallmadge) 2 innings, 1 run, earned, hit, strikeout. S — Payton Gotshall (Perry) 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 6 strikeouts. Stark — Gottshall home run.