Softball | Huge road win at Highland highlights first half of league season

Steve Batko
Correspondent
McKennah Metzger earned the pitching win and belted a home run against Kent Roosevelt.

Behind some power, solid pitching, and timely hitting, the Aurora softball squad has moved up in the challenging Suburban League American Conference standings.

Coach Sam Petrash saw his red-hot club collect a 10-4 league road win at Kent Roosevelt on April 23 to move to 5-1 in league action.

Talented freshman McKennah Metzger earned the win on the mound and helped the cause with three hits, including a home run.

“That brings McKennah’s season total to six home runs,” said Petrash.

Another gifted young player, sophomore shortstop Maddie Zdanowicz, continues to hit the ball. Zdanowicz had a leadoff triple to start and scored, plus she added a double. Zdanowicz, Kayla Ring and Maeve Russell had two hits and two RBIs apiece.

"It is awesome to see Ring and Russell get going since they’ve been in a little funk,” said Petrash. “They are outstanding softball players and have been trying to break out. This team will be tough to beat once they get hot and roll with the others.”

Russell had a pair of doubles against the Rough Riders. The Greenmen recently had a split in a home doubleheader against Mentor as the first game had plenty of drama.

Aurora came back from a 4-0 deficit to score two runs in the fifth frame and two more in the bottom of the seventh on a two-run blast by Metzger to tie the game. Metzger ended the extra-inning drama with a game-winning sacrifice fly for a 5-4 win.

The Greenmen held the Cardinals scoreless in the eighth when Metzger, who was already 4-for-4 on the day, came to bat after a big leadoff single by senior Kennedy Nietert and two intentional walks to load the bases with one out in the bottom half.

“Metzger was having a great day at the plate so we were a little surprised they walked two hitters to face her in that situation,” said Petrash. “Most freshmen would tense up, but McKennah looked down to me and had this big smile on her face. I’m really amazed at her poise and confidence.”

Responding to the moment, Metzger lifted a medium-deep fly ball to right field to score Nietert and give Aurora the win.

Aurora lost the second game 8-3.

“Mentor is a strong Division I program so we are pleased with the split,” said Petrash. “I felt we could have had more energy that second game. That will be the next step in our development. Good teams bring the energy and pressure every game.”

The Greenmen recently exploded for 15 runs on 13 hits for another league win (15-4) over Copley.

Junior hurler Mackenzie Krafcik got the win in the circle, striking out eight in five innings.

Krafcik and sophomore Maggie McVicker each belted home runs, plus Metzger collected four RBIs with Zdanowicz, Krafcik and McVicker each collecting three RBIs.

Krafcik banged out three hits. Ring, Zdanowicz, Metzger and McVicker each slapped two hits for the Greenmen.

Kayla Ring had multi hits in games last week against Kent Roosevelt and Copley.

Another huge league win in extra innings recently came over visiting Revere by a 4-3 count.

The Greenmen tallied a run in the third to take a 1-0 lead when Krafcik singled to score freshman Madeline Dalessandro. The lead held up until the seventh when Revere scored on a double to tie it 1-1 and extra innings would follow.

Revere scored first with a run in top of the ninth only to see Krafcik come through again with a double to score Zdanowicz in the bottom half. Krafcik’s pressure hit pushed the game into the 10th inning.

“That’s where McKennah [Metzger] was pitching a great game,” said Petrash. “Revere got to her though.”

Revere pitcher Shannon Appel hit a solo homer off Metzger to start the inning.

"McKennah was beginning to tire, but we wanted to let her go out and try to get the win,” Petrash said. “She was competing pitch to pitch with Shannon who is one of the best pitchers in our conference. We felt we’d let her go until a runner got on but didn’t anticipate the home run so that’s on me.”

Krafcik came in to relieve Metzger.

“We are blessed to have two awesome pitchers so we handed the ball to Krafcik to close the inning,” said Petrash.

Dalessandro walked and advanced to second on a passed ball. Then junior Shannon Morris executed a perfect bunt to stun the Minutemen.

“Shannon laid down a beautiful bunt for a hit and moved Dalessandro to third,” said Petrash.

Zdanowicz then lined a two-run double to left field for the electrifying walk-off win.

“With Morris stealing on the pitch, Maddie roped a double to the left-field wall scoring Dalessandro and Morris to give the Greenmen a big 4-3 win,” said Petrash.

Aurora also had a huge 5-3 road win at Medina Highland to snap the Hornets’ 20-game win streak in the league.

“Highland had not lost a conference game in 20 contests and in my mind are the conference favorites to win the Suburban American League again,” said Petrash.

The Greenmen jumped out to an early two-run lead in the first only to see the Hornets tie it in the bottom of the second. Metzger blasted a two-run dinger over the left-center wall to put the Greenmen ahead for good and then added a solo blast in the seventh for good measure.

Krafcik got the win as she went seven innings striking out five and giving up two earned runs.

Krafcik and Metzger each had three hits with McVicker and Dalessandro each adding two apiece.

The Greenmen and Highland have a rematch Wednesday in Aurora. The Greenmen will also play host to Tallmadge on Thursday and Twinsburg on Saturday.

Maggie McVicker had a home run and three RBIs in a win over Copley.