AKRON — Brittany Nero pulled an inside 1-0 pitch down the left field line and pinch runner Morgan Orlowski scampered across home plate in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Cuyahoga Heights a 2-1 walk-off win and its first-ever state title to end the Minster Wildcats’ dream of a Division IV state championship on Saturday.
“It was a great game, the way a state championship should be,” Cuyahoga Heights head coach Christy Zawadzki said.
Minster ended its run — the first state appearance in softball for the school — with a 27-4 record at at Firestone Stadium.
“We laid it all out there today, we just couldn’t get it done,” Minster junior Michaela Goettmoeller said.
Minster scored first, but its usually-reliable bats were silenced aside from the big day by junior outfielder Michaela Goettemoeller. The Wildcats managed two hits on Cuyahoga Heights pitcher Meridith Chopka— both by Goettemoeller.
“We just didn’t hit as well as we usually do,” Minster head coach Scott Robinson said. “She’s a good pitcher, but we just couldn’t put enough hits together. We gave them two unearned and that killed us.”
Goettemoeller went 2-for-3 with a run batted in.
“I just wanted to hit the ball,” Goettemoeller said. “Yesterday I didn’t hit the ball well, so I just wanted to crush it and win state for my team. I just was seeing better than I did yesterday.”
Cuyahoga Heights’ Chopka earned the win, pitching seven innings of two-hit, one-run softball with six strikeouts and four walks.
Minster struck first in the top of the fourth inning. After Rachel Heckaman was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a wild pitch, Goettemoeller singled through the box into center field to score Heckaman.
Cuyahoga Heights responded quickly in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game. Dayna Denner double to left center to lead off the inning. After a lineout to shortstop Heckaman, the throw trying to get the double play at second sailed over second baseman’s Alexis Robinson’s leap to allow Denner to trot to third base. Chopka lifted a sacrifice fly into medium right to bring Denner home with the tying run.
The game stayed that way until the seventh, when Cuyahoga Heights pushed across another unearned run.Samantha Rodriguez reached to start the inning when Minster players converged on a pop-up in shallow right field and the ball dropped, bringing pinch runner Orlowski into the game. Kaitlynn Gervase bunted her over and Orlowski went to third with two outs on a groundout to second base to set up Nero’s two-out heroics.
“It’s tough, but she did a good job of getting ahold of the ball,” Richard said of that final pitch.
Minster’s run ended a little short of its goal of a title, but Robinson said the run will impact Minster softball for a long time.
“This was a great group of girls,” Robinson said. “They were great leaders, kids and softball players. The girls who were seniors, we threw into the fire as freshmen. We got spanked as freshmen, but I knew then that they had it. I thought we would get here last year. When kids buy into what you’re selling and let it become a family, when you’re playing for the team and not just yourself, special things happen. I’d love for them to have the gold trophy, but I’m proud of them.”
“We played our hearts out,” Richard said.
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