AKRON — The Tallmadge softball team is transitioning quite well through a coaching change as its past and present remain intertwined.
Ed Seeker stepped away as head coach after last season, but he hasn’t strayed too far as he remains in the dugout as an assistant to first-year head coach Brittany Lightel for this season.
Seeker and Lightel left Akron’s Firestone Stadium with smiles on their faces Monday after the Blue Devils defeated Copley 3-1 in a Suburban League American Conference game. Tallmadge senior Emily Pratt pitched a complete game and struck out 11.
"We all came in with a pumped attitude and we were all very excited because this was our home opener," Blue Devils’ junior Katie Rinehart said.
Tallmadge (7-3, 3-0) took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when senior Paige Leitner singled to score senior Gia Spitali and junior Chloie Brown smacked a sacrifice fly to score Rinehart.
The Blue Devils made it 3-0 in the third when junior Gia Marfy lifted a sacrifice fly to score senior Autumn Malicoat.
The Indians (3-3, 1-1) cut their deficit to 3-1 in the fifth when Michelle Caye hit a single, Meghan Hersey hit a double and Sam Brawslawski scored Caye with a groundout.
Pratt (4-2) limited Copley to three hits. Tallmadge finished with six hits.
"Emily was throwing really hard," Rinehart said. "The first pitch — when she was warming up, we just heard the smack of the ball in the mitt and we were all like, ‘This is going to be a good game.’"
Lightel described Pratt "as a freaking athlete who puts everything she has out there."
"My drop-curve was working really well," Pratt said. "My connection with [junior catcher] Jordyn Severns is always really good. I trust her."
Seeker led Tallmadge to a 226-95 record in 13 seasons that included Division II state semifinal appearances in 2009 and 2014. Lightel was a sophomore pitcher and shortstop on the 2009 team.
Lightel’s staff also includes Alyssa Brown, who helped Hudson reach the Division I state final in 2009. Lightel and Brown played together at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea.
"I love playing here in this stadium," said Lightel, who spent the past two seasons on Seeker’s staff. "It always reminds me of the state tournament."