Walsh Jesuit softball opens postseason with almost perfect start
CUYAHOGA FALLS — Denied a chance to play a year ago, Walsh Jesuit softball was champing at the bit for postseason action after reaching the regional semifinals in 2019.
Given the No. 2 seed in the Division I Northeast Ohio super district, the Warriors rolled into the playoffs having won 12 of their last 13 games.
Taking on Kent Roosevelt in a sectional final game in the Mentor district, the Warriors got a total team effort for the perfect start.
Well, it was almost perfect.
Freshman ace Natalie Susa pitched a no-hitter as the Warriors scored a 10-0 win over the Rough Riders in five innings Wednesday at Walsh.
The Warriors (15-3) advanced to the district semifinal Monday at Mentor against Madison. Madison defeated Massillon Jackson 2-0 Wednesday.
Walsh coach Tony Scibelli noted his team dominated all three phases of the game.
"We did a great job today," he said. "Everything was working for us. We scored in a variety of ways, which has been our thing all year. We really like we can score no matter the opposition throws at us."
Roosevelt coach Luke Darrah appreciated his team's effort, but said he had no illusions what the Rough Riders faced.
"We were kind of overwhelmed today," he said. "Our kids played hard the whole time. All you can do is play loose and play hard for the entire game.
"We made some mistakes that gave them some extra runs. All in all, I'm proud of the girls. We won a playoff game, which is something we haven't done in years. We're making progress."
Roosevelt advanced to the game after a 2-1 sectional semifinal win over Stow-Munroe Falls Monday. But Darrah said he knew Susa would present a whole different level of challenge.
Even though she admitted she wasn't razor sharp, Susa still struck out eight Rough Riders while pitching her second mercy-rule shortened no-hitter of the year.
"I think I was overly excited to start today because it's the playoffs," Susa said. "When I get excited, my mechanics kind of go away. I settled down though."
"She's actually getting better and better each week," Scibelli said. "When she goes to 3-0, we're confident she can still come back and strike them out."
Susa said her riseball and change up were working well, but she said she'd like to use her screwball more moving forward.
If Susa had the Rough Riders swinging at air, Walsh's batters had no such problem.
Walsh right fielder Sienna Tepley — another freshman — set the tone for the game with a lead-off double off the fence. Tepley finished 2-of-3 with two runs scored and two RBI.
A native of Brimfield, Tepley noted not only that she and Susa are long-time travel teammates with the Ohio Outlaws, but that they share the same birthday.
"It's so much fun watch her," Tepley said.
Susa drove in Tepley with a sacrifice fly, and Walsh catcher Mia DeSciscio also had an RBI single in the first inning. DeSciscio went 3-of-3 with a double.
Walsh added three runs in the second on a sacrifice fly by Tepley, an RBI single by Maddie Schmeiser and RBI double by Susa.
In the third inning, Tepley's RBI single was followed by a throwing error which allowed two runs to score, making it 8-0.
Walsh added its final two runs on an RBI single by Jenna Passek and a sacrifice fly by Keely Clinton. Walsh finished with 10 hits in the game.
An error to start the fifth inning allowed Roosevelt catcher Megan Moser to reach base, breaking up Susa's bid for a perfect game.
However, Susa got a ground out and two consecutive pop outs to invoke the mercy rule and preserve the no-hitter.