Saturday, January 28, 2023

Leichtman delivers in the clutch to lead Cardinal past Fairport

MIDDLEFIELD—Moments after her two out, two run walk-off single led Cardinal to a 7-6 win over visiting Fairport Harding, Delaney Leichtman stood in front of a camera and credited her teammates for never giving up even when things weren’t going their way early in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division showdown on Friday.

Their patience paid off as the Huskies scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to push their record to 9-8.

“It felt great,” Leichtman said. “We were all on a roll. Today we were down for most of the game but no one hung their heads and we did all we could do to get that win.”

Cardinal rallied back from several deficits in the game and scored five of their runs in their final two at bats.

“That's the best way to do it is to come from behind,” said Cardinal coach Dennis Ikeler. “That's just the way we've been playing this year. We've come from behind more than once. I don't like it. It's hard on my old man heart.”

Fairport took a 1-0 lead in the second on back-to-back doubles and added another run in the third when Brenna Lorek doubled and Cora Paolino singled.

The Huskies cut their deficit in half in the bottom of the inning when Leichtman singled and stole her way to third. She scored on a single by Haley Adams.

Cardinal tied it in the fourth when Hannah Hill singled and stole second. Faith Peters and Megan Baril hit back-to-back singles to score Hill.

Back-to-back home runs by Lorek and Paolino put the Skippers back on top, 4-2, in the top of the fifth and Fairport added two more in the sixth on a two-run shot by Lorek, who finished the game 4-for-4 with three runs scored and three batted in.

Again, the Huskies responded.

Peters led off the bottom of the sixth with a single and Baril hit into a fielder’s choice. Baril then stole second and scored on Leichtman’s two out double. Dawn Scribben came to the plate and delivered an RBI single to make it 6-4.

Fairport was in position to add an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning but Adams caught an outside pitch and fired the ball down to Baril at third for the pick off.

“That was all coach,” Adams said. “I'm glad he had confidence in me to throw down because I was praying to the Big Guy that the throw would be on target. (Baril) just made a good tag and luckily we got the out.”

That opened the door for Cardinal’s last inning rally.

Hill again led things off with a one out single and Peters drew a walk. Baril, who finished the game 4-for-5, singled home Hill to cut Fairport’s lead to 6-5 with runners at first and third and one out. Baril stole second but a strike out left the Huskies down to their final out.

Two pitches later, Leichtman was staring down an 0-2 count before ripping the third pitch she saw up the middle to end the game.

“Coach just tells me to have fun,” she said. “Anytime he tells me that, all I can do is have fun and smile. He's just this big guy and he smiles back at you. It's the best feeling ever.”

Leichtman finished 4-for-5 with three runs batted in and Adams and Hill both had three hits for the Huskies, who have won seven of their last 10 games.

“These girls have come together as a team,” Ikeler said. “In the first couple of years that I've been here, they were struggling getting used to each other and getting used to me. I've been here now for my third year and these girls are playing as a team and they're coming together.”


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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