Saturday, January 28, 2023

Hornets overcome adversity to beat Wickliffe

KIRTLAND—Inspirational writer William Ward once said, “Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.”

The Kirtland softball team didn’t break any records in Wednesday’s 5-1 season opening win over Wickliffe at Recreation Park but the Hornets didn’t break.

Instead of opening the season with first year head coach Bob Lasecki as planned, the Hornets were guided by longtime assistant coach Paul Kucsma, who filled in for Lasecki, who spent the last several days hospitalized with an illness. Former head coach Laurie Melfi, who last coached at Kirtland a decade ago, was recruited to coach first base.

Kucsma, whose last head coaching gig was over a decade ago at Lake Catholic, did his best to calm the Hornets’ nerves before the game. 

“I told them, the game itself is what we were concentrating on,” Kucsma said. “I know we're having the problem with Bob and me being a head coach again. I told the girls, 'Step above that. We're going to play softball and have fun. It's still hitting and field.' I think they did that.”

Once the first pitch was thrown the Hornets focused on the task at hand and came away with their first win of the season.

Lindsay Ward, who allowed just one run on two hits and three walks, set the Blue Devils down in order in the first.

Hallie Ward then led off the Kirtland first with a single to right. She moved to second on an error and scored on her sister’s double to left.

A leadoff walk and a single helped Wickliffe tie it in the third but the Hornets came right back with four in the bottom half of the inning.

Lindsay Ward singled with one out to start the rally and Olivia Mancisio followed with a base hit. Vicky Carriero then came up with two outs and singled and Danielle Myers and Morgan Faber both singled. Ward, Mancisio, Carriero and Myers all scored in the inning.

That was all the offense Ward would need as she allowed just one baserunner in the final four innings. She struck out seven Wickliffe hitters.

“The fact that she pitched a complete game, that's a key point to me because now you know, and she throws pretty hard, you know she's not going to get tired and start overthrowing,” Kucsma said. “She can go seven and we know that.”

She also led the Hornets at the plate, finishing the game 3-for-3 with a double, a run scored and an RBI and she was hit by a pitch.

Mancisio finished 2-for-4 while Myers and Faber were 2-for-3.

“Danielle (Myers) is another senior. We moved her around. She played a lot of outfield last year and she’s playing some second base now,” Kucsma said. “The one inning, Vicky, our catcher, our second baseman and (Faber) all got a hit that inning. They stepped up. They stepped up and came through and we scored some runs.”

The Hornets also shined on defense, especially in the outfield where left fielder Lauren Briggs, center fielder Cam Garcia and right fielder Kerri Zalba all chased down fly balls.

“Our left fielder, Lauren, had three catches today,” Kucsma said. “Our right fielder made a nice catch. Our center fielder, Cam, a co-captain, she made another nice catch. Everybody was making plays.”

Kirtland hosts Mayfield on Friday.


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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