Thursday, April 18, 2024

Army All-Stars drop the Navy, 6-1

CLEVELAND–Clutch hitting and dominant pitching led the Army All-Stars to a 6-1 win over the Navy All-Stars in the inaugural Ohio Varsity All-Star Classic on Sunday at Case Western Reserve University’s Mather Park.

Geneva's Jamie Verno had a clutch hit with the bases loaded

The Army All-Stars, sponsored by Mentor Mitsubishi, broke open a scoreless tie with two runs in the fifth inning and added one in the sixth and three more in the eighth to hold off the Navy.

“I think it was (Geneva’s Jamie Verno), her breakthrough hit with the bases loaded (in the fifth) that got us going,” said Cuyahoga Heights head coach Christy Zawadzki, who coached the Army All-Stars. “We were a little patient at the plate. We got some walks and then we got the big hit when we needed it.”

Mentor’s Arial Birtley led off the Army fifth with a single and Riverside’s Brittany Baitt walked to put runners on first and second with no outs in the scoreless game. Perry’s Emiley Westfall reached on a fielder’s choice and Riverside’s Taylor Braddock reached on an error to load the bases with one out.

Following a strike out, Chardon’s Stacey Kovacic walked to give the Army a 1-0 lead and Verno singled home Westfall to put the Army up 2-0.

“I always thought I did better under pressure and I knew I needed to push some runs across,” Verno said. “I took a chance because I’m pretty sure it was an outside pitch, which I’m not comfortable hitting. I just took it and I went the other direction. I was pretty happy.”

The Navy, sponsored by DesignWorks, responded with a run in the top of the sixth when Orange’s Terriana Graham singled and scored on a single by Eastlake North’s Halle McKinley, who finished the game 3-for-4 with an RBI.

“It was pretty cool to have a productive day,” McKinley said. “I wanted to get a hit because we had an opportunity (to score), so I was trying my best.”

Three straight one-out walks led to another Army run in the bottom of the sixth when Madison’s Amanda Mangelo scored on a passed ball to make it 3-1.

Mangelo, who entered the game in the top of the sixth, pitched the final three innings for the Army All-Stars. She struck out six of the 11 batters she faced and scored two runs.

"It was a great experience to give it my all and benefit my team as much as I could," Mangelo said.

Perry’s Jenny Mettler singled to start the Army’s three-run eighth. She moved to second when Mangelo walked for the second straight time.

Orange’s Leslie Sensibello then struck out the next two Army hitters but Madison’s Nikkie Ochoa came through with a two-out single to score Mangelo and Mettler. Ochoa scored on a single by Riverside’s Kirsten Ponsart, who was 2-for-3 in the game.

Riverside’s Brittany Baitt and Taylor Braddock both doubled in the game for the Army All-Stars. Lake Catholic’s Savannah Karako was 2-for-2 for the Navy.

Ochoa allowed two hits and one run in three innings of work to pick up the win for the Army. Westfall, who started the game for the Army, allowed two hits and struck out three in three innings.

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Steve Hare
Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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