Monday, February 6, 2023

Hornets headed to 13th straight district tournament

Kirtland seniors Hallie Ward and Cam Garcia each collected three hits to lead the No. 4 seed Hornets to a win over host Wickliffe, the No. 2 seed, in a Division III sectional championship game at Jindra Park on Thursday.

With the win, the 18-0 Hornets advance to the Division III LaBrae District semifinals against No. 3 seed Newton Falls on Wednesday. The district appearance is the 13th straight for the Hornets, who are 4-11 in the district tournament since 2004.

“It's an awesome accomplishment making it to districts,” said Ward, who was 3-for-4 and scored a run. “I'm proud of how hard our team has been working and how we have been playing, especially with all of the challenges throughout the season. No one thought we would make it this far so I am very excited that we are continuing our winning streak.”

Kirtland appeared in four straight Jefferson Division III District tournaments beginning in the 2012 season. That year Kirtland advanced to the district championship game but lost to eventual state champion Warren Champion, the same team that also ended Kirtland’s playoff run in the district semifinals in 2013 and 2014 and in the district final last season.

Prior to 2012, Kirtland played in eight straight Division IV district tournaments. The Hornets reached the district championship game just one time between 2004 and 2011. That came in 2006 when Kirtland defeated Vienna Mathews, 1-0, to advance to the regional tournament for the first time in school history. Strasburg-Franklin defeated the 15-9 Hornets, 4-1, in the regional semifinals.

Wickliffe took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a leadoff single, a one out walk and a double. A fielder’s choice and a fly ball got the Hornets out of the jam.

Ward’s one out single in the third led to a three-run inning for the Hornets.

Garcia followed with a single and Lindsay Ward and Olivia Mancisio hit back-to-back doubles to give the Hornets a 3-1 lead.

Wickliffe pulled to within 3-2 in the fourth but Kirtland added two more in the fifth to make it 5-2.

Garcia, who finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored, and Lindsay Ward hit back-to-back one out singles and scored on Liz Vernon’s double.

“I just tried to see the field and visualize hitting it where they weren't,” Garcia said of her big day at the plate. “It helps if I just do what I know. It also helps having Hallie on base because my main goal as the second batter is to move her and I know that her speed will make it easier on me.”

Lindsay Ward retired 10 of the last 11 Wickliffe hitters she faced to close out the win.

She allowed two earned runs on four hits and struck out two. She also had two hits, including the double, two runs batted in and scored twice.

Danielle Meyer also had a hit for the Hornets.

Kirtland hopes a new district tournament location can provide a fresh start as it tries to reach the Division III regional tournament for the first time.

“We're just taking it game by game now,” Garcia said. “Thankfully we have a few days to relax and recover from playing three games in a row, but we're ready to come back on Monday and have two solid practices before we play on Wednesday. At this point, it's all about correcting the little things.”

 

Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, 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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