Kent Roosevelt's rally in final inning ends Aurora softball season

by STEVE BATKO | CORRESPONDENT Published:

Aurora -- A wild finish in district semifinal action saw the Aurora High softball team have its season end abruptly.

Top-seeded Aurora (15-8) was in position to advance in the Solon Division I tournament with a 3-2 lead going into the top half of the seventh inning.

But that's when the bottom fell out, as Kent Roosevelt (15-11) scored five runs on the strength of four Aurora errors.

The Rough Riders had three key hits, but it was the fielding and throwing errors that haunted the Greenmen.

Kent Roosevelt went on to lose to Nodonia in the district finals.

Winning pitcher Sadie Janus (11-8) drove in Megan Duman with the tying run with a single, and Kent's Shannon Larkin scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error on a ground ball hit by Jen Doershuk. Suddenly, it was 7-3 with Kent on top.

The Lady Greenmen battled back with several walks and three hits in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 7-5 with the bases loaded, but Kent outfielder Justina Fortson threw out a runner at the plate to end the rally and the game.

"I was pleased with how we came back, but we had the lead and just let it go," said head coach Jenna Micale.

"We dropped routine fly balls that needed to be outs, made some bad throws and didn't field grounders. Any time there are that many errors, nothing good is going to come out of it.

"I was proud of the girls after that inning to come up in the bottom of seventh and take some key walks, and continue to put runs up. We just fell a little short."

Micale said the team's defensive woes are partly because of Aurora's sensational ace pitcher Nicole Doyle (9-3). A junior, she fanned 15 Kent batters in the May 21 loss.

"SOMETHING we struggled with all season was trying not to fall asleep in the field behind Doyle. When teams connect with her pitches, the ball is going to be hit hard. We failed to make easy outs. It's a very tough way to lose."

The Aurora mentor pointed out that Aurora needed to make only six outs since Doyle struck out 15, but the Lady Greenmen couldn't get it done. Doyle pitched a 6-hitter.

"Nicole worked very hard on the mound getting out of tough situations with runners on base," added Micale. "She struggled a little by hitting three batters in the game, but pitched well."

Mary Gavriloff hit her first home run of the season for Kent off of Doyle. "I knew Kent was known for rallying late in the game like they did against Austintown Fitch," said Micale.

Senior first baseman Devan Ternai sent the Greenmen to an early lead when she slammed a two-run home run in the first inning. It was Ternai's seventh homer of the season. However, the locals managed only three more hits the remainder of the game.

"Offensively, we had only four hits and the majority came late in the game," said the coach. "We were patient at the plate and drew some walks, moved them over well and had a couple stolen bases.

"We put the ball in play and their defense made plays. I knew if we scored a couple runs and played defense, we would be in every game with Nicole on the mound. We just didn't play defense well."

Other seniors for Aurora who wrapped up brilliant careers were shortstop-infielder Julie Zidones, outfielder Abby Nicolas, third-baseman-catcher Hannah Vitz and outfielder Sam Arslanian.

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