Falcons pick bad time to play an atypical game.
AKRON_After four years of little else but success, six Jefferson softball players – Alyssa Irons, Sam Hamski, Kaycee Fusco, Emily Smock, Shawna Dull and Emily Sukalac – had their careers come crashing to a close with a 10-0 loss to Akron Hoban in a Division II regional championship game at Akron Firestone Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“It definitely was a hard ending to our season and high school careers,” Irons said. “Honestly, the close games – 1-0, 2-1 – are always harder. We still didn’t want to go out like this. We wanted to go out with a bang.
“We went all out. We laid it all out there, the ball just didn’t bounce in our favor.”
“It is heartbreaking,” Hamski said. “Softball has pretty much been all of our lives since we were 5. It’s really tough, especially since we hadn’t lost all season then we got mercied in front of everybody who came all this way to see us. It sucks.”
The legacy left behind by those six players set a new standard for the Falcons’ program and will go unmatched for long time to come.
“As players, we always think about the last game we lost, the game that took us out of whatever tournament we were in,” Jefferson coach Amy Durkovic said. “They have to realize these last three years have been a success. There were several school records that were broken for offense, defense and pitching. This is such an accomplished team.
“I’m excited to add up all the stats. There are several that will go into the Ohio record book. I’m just really proud of the success they’ve had and, honestly, about how hard they’ve worked. This is the hardest-working group of girls I’ve been around.”
It may not have been the ending the seniors Falcons were looking for, but there are so many good memories and so much ahead of them, the final game will fade away.
“It’s sad this is coming to an end,” Irons said. “Speaking for us seniors, everyone has a lot of good coming things coming their way. We’ll share memories and we’ll laugh for hours about them. We won’t be sad. We’ll be happy we made them.”
“We’ve had so many amazing experiences,” Hamski said. “Our softball experiences don’t end with just this one game. I’ve had my best friends by my side for years and they’ve made the best memories of my life.”
Durkovic echoed those sentiments.
“It’s been a pleasure to be a coach to these kids,” Durkovic said. “We pray before every game and ask God to give us strength, mental focus and for safety on the field. I want to praise God just for being a part of it.”
It was Hoban’s day at the plate, though the Knights (24-5) had to scratch and claw to get a foothold before they broke open the damn.
In the second, the Knights loaded the bases with no outs on Katie Clark’s single through the hole on the left side, an error and a bouncer that traveled about 12 feet up the first-base line, but hung in the air long enough Irons didn’t have a play. Irons walked in the first run and the second scored on another error.
Alex Whitemore followed with a blooper just inside the line about 10 feet behind first base that rolled toward the fence. Two more score and Whitmore had a double. Colleen Cain followed with a double deep into the corner in left to score two more for a 6-0 Hoban lead.
“It comes back to that old thing, hit ’em where they ain’t,” Hoban coach Frank Voss said. “We didn’t the other night (in a 1-0 win over Lakeview in a regional semifinal), but we did today. With the record we have, you have to have a little luck.”
At that point, a win was still within grasp for the Falcons (20-1).
“To be honest, as a coach I saw it was 6-0 and said to myself we could it. We’ve dug ourselves out before,” Durkovic said. “(The girls) did, too. We’d have had to take it hit by hit and use small steps to get there. We’ve been down before and got the job done. It didn’t fall our way.”
An inning later, Maddie Terzola reached on a two-out infield single and Emma Terzola walked. Whitmore singled to left, but the fielder fell down allowing her to advance. Maddie Terzola scored from second and Emma followed. The throw to the plate sailed into the Falcons’ dugout and Whitmore scored, as well, for a 9-0 Hoban lead.
In the fifth, Ashley Matousek and Clark both singled putting runners at second and third with nobody out. A ground ball brought a throw to the plate, but yet another error allowed the run to score for the 10-0 lead.
“(Everything snowballing) made it harder,” Irons said. “It’s tough to go out there when you’re behind. And we kept digging the hole deeper and deeper. It was rough.”
In all, the Falcons committed five errors.
“Looking back, I think the most errors I’ve recorded for one game is two,” Durkovic said. “Most of the time I was writing down zero errors. This just wasn’t their day.”
Laney Jones had no trouble holding the Hoban lead in allowing just a single to Hamski to lead off the home half of the first. She walked three, but fanned five. Of the other 10 batters she retired, four were pop ups and two more were fly balls.
The Knights countered with nine hits. Whitmore led the way with a double, single and three RBI and Clark singled twice. Seven Hoban players scored at least once.
“I just want to say, first of all, it was a great job by Hoban to take advantage,” Durkovic said. “They weren’t powerhouse hitting, but a lot of it was finding holes. Congratulations to them. They executed well and shut our defense down.
“I told the girls, of course they didn’t want to leave losing like this. But coming in with a 20-0 record, how many teams can say they had no losses, fought all year? This just happened to be the game we fell short.”
“They were a good hitting team,” Irons said. “They really were. They just made contact and hit the ball where our defenders weren’t. They just got the job done. They did what they had to do.”
“It depends on which team comes out,” Voss said. “If the hitting team comes out, I’m not surprised (we scored 10 runs).”
Irons struck out four and walked two in the loss.
VIEW THE SLIDESHOW
2016 Softball State Tournament Pairings
All Games at Firestone Stadium, Akron
Home Team Listed First. Rankings as of Final Coaches Association State Poll.
Jeromesville Hillsdale (24-3) vs. #5 Strasburg-Franklin (24-6) Thursday, June 2, 10 a.m.
#7 Williamsburg (28-0) vs. #4 Convoy Crestview (24-4), Thursday, June 2, 12:30 p.m.
Div. IV State Championship: Saturday, June 4, 10 a.m.
#1 Wheelersburg (25-2) vs. Johnstown-Monroe (24-7), Thursday June 2, 3 p.m.
#7 Canfield South Range (28-3) vs. #6 Milan Edison (24-3), Thursday, June 2, 5:30 p.m.
Div. III State Championship: Saturday, June 4, 1 p.m.
#2 LaGrange Keystone (27-4) vs. Hamilton Ross (21-7), Friday, June 3, 10 a.m.
#7 Akron Archbishop Hoban (23-5) vs. #1 Hebron Lakewood (27-0), Friday, June 3, 12:30 p.m.
Div. II State Championship: Saturday, June 4, 4 p.m.
#3 Mason (25-2) vs. #9 Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit (22-5), Friday, June 3, 3 p.m.
#5 Amherst Steele (25-5) vs. #4 Ashville Teays Valley (22-6), Friday, June 3, 5:30 p.m.
Div. I State Championship: Saturday, June 4, 7 p.m.