Softball battles against high-level competition

Steve Batko
Correspondent
Aurora's Shannon Morris bunts against Boardman in a game on Saturday.

Facing some quality pitching of late, the Aurora softball team’s offensive production has slipped a bit, but that’s by design.

A slip in offense isn’t by design — rather, it’s the quality pitching that usually comes via a top-notch schedule.

The Greenmen aren’t looking to gain a lot of easy, lopsided wins this spring.

Going up against strong competition is what head coach Sam Petrash wants — he realizes it may be tough going during certain stretches against quality softball programs.

“I know we can hit, but recently, we have seen better pitching and the kids may be pressing a bit, trying to make things happen, so you have to temper that,” he said.

“We want to play a tough schedule to prepare for the postseason.”

Aurora hosted Boardman in a doubleheader and lost 6-1 in the first game and fell 10-2 in the second game of the twin bill April 3.

In 2019, Boardman was a 20-win club so this is a quality program that still has loads of talent.

In the first game, the Greenmen offense was held in check by Maddie Lester, a standout pitcher who made all-league and had 12 wins as a freshman in 2019.

This time around, Lester scattered six hits. Lester also went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double, and three RBIs.

“They [Boardman] controlled the entire game,” said Petrash, who got a solid pitching effort from junior Mackenzie Krafcik.

Aurora's Maggie McVicker delivers a pitch against Boardman on April 3.

While Aurora does return some talent and has a strong youth movement, this was the first full week of varsity play for many of the Greenmen athletes.

“It was great to get out and play and our team is comprised of a lot of kids who have not had a lot of varsity action,” said Petrash. “They learned a lot about themselves and we learned a lot about them.”

Aurora led 2-1 in the second game of the doubleheader before Boardman exploded for three runs in the top of the fifth inning and six more in the top of the sixth frame — keyed by a bases-loaded triple by Lester.

Kathryn O’Horo got the pitching win for the Spartans (2-1) and had three hits and an RBI.

Going against O’Horo, Aurora did manage to collect seven hits.

The Greenmen lost 11-2 at Hudson (3-1) March 30 as well.

“We are still in the learning process, but I have been pleased with our pitching,” said Petrash, who leans on Krafcik and freshman McKennah Metzger.

In the home opener Aurora won 19-9 in a five-inning non-league game against Garrettsville Garfield (1-3) on March 29 as Aurora (3-3) pounded out 17 hits.

Sophomore Maggie McVicker went 3-for-3 at the plate and knocked in a career-high five runs in the victory. 

Mackenzie Krafcik delivers a pitch against Boardman on April 3.

Krafcik and Metzger were also offensive heroes with three hits apiece. Krafcik got the pitching win on the mound.

The team’s lone senior, Kennedy Nietert, had an RBI double and had a nice diving catch in leftfield.

Madison Zdanowicz, a sophomore, and freshman Madeline Dalesandro each had a double for Aurora.

“We are finally healthy now,” said Petrash.

Aurora plays at Nordonia April 9 and has a doubleheader April 10 at Solon with the first pitch coming at 11 a.m.

Aurora's Maddie Zdanowicz hits against Boardman during a doubleheader on April 3.