Nordonia softball's season ends with heartbreaker vs. Lake

Roger Gordon
Nordonia Knights

It was a short stay in the postseason this year for the Nordonia softball team.

The 26th-seeded Knights lost a heartbreaker 6-5 at 16th-seeded Uniontown Lake May 11 in a Division I Region 1 Massillon sectional semifinal.

Nordonia jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning and added three more runs in the fifth and led 5-3 going into the bottom of the sixth. That, however, is when the Blue Streaks tallied three runs with the help of two costly errors to forge ahead by one.

“We just couldn’t get the lead back in the top of the seventh,” Knights head coach Marissa Rizzo said. “We played a good game, though.”

Nordonia sophomore pitcher Laney Wilhelm helped herself out big-time with three singles and an RBI. Junior catcher Morgan Gallagher rapped a pair of singles and knocked in two runs.

Three days later, on May 14, Nordonia lost 6-1 at home to Suburban League National Conference rival Hudson. On May 15, the Knights fell 10-0 at home to National Conference rival North Royalton. Then, on May 17, Nordonia concluded the season with a 4-1 loss at conference foe Cuyahoga Falls.

The Knights finished the season with a 7-20 overall record and a 3-11 conference mark.

“Our record doesn’t show how much progress we made during the season,” said Rizzo. “It wasn’t the season that we wanted, but these girls grew a lot and we learned a lot. Of course it wasn’t great to not win much, but we still played well.

“Offensively, we started off really well, but as the year went on we had our ups and downs. The downs came at the wrong time.

“Our pitching did well this season. For not having a lot of wins on their records, the girls still kept it together and did what they could.

“Defensively, we definitely struggled at the beginning of the season. We started to find our stride toward the end of the season. We grew a lot.”

Six key players who will return for next season are juniors Carmella Hack, Morgan Gallagher and third baseman Elizabeth Shubert and sophomores Laney Wilhelm, Grace Whapham and Jensen Stehlik.

Hack, the shortstop, was one of Nordonia’s top hitters this season. She tied the school record with 12 doubles and led the team with four home runs.

“As a team,” Rizzo said, “we broke the school record with 10 homers.”

Gallagher, the catcher, will be huge leadership-wise behind the plate next year.

“Morgan did really well back there this year,” said the coach.

Wilhelm not only did well on the mound this season, she also batted .400 and was one of the Knights’ best contact hitters. She led the team in hits and RBIs with 28.

Whapham, an outfielder, led Nordonia with a .415 batting average. She also led the team in singles and stolen bases with 13.

“As a team,” Rizzo said, “we broke the school record with 46 stolen bases.”

Stehlik struggled a bit at the plate, but she was stellar defensively and had nine stolen bases.

“We’re going to grow a lot in the offseason and put in a lot of work,” said Rizzo. “I think next year our record will reflect the work that we put in.”