LaBrae blasts Ursuline, one win from state

MASSILLON – Sometimes it takes a few pops to start feeling better.

Not the kind of pops you have after a hard day of work. We’re talking about the pops – as LaBrae Vikings softball coach Demetra Noble likes to call them – that happen when a bat meets a ball.

The Vikings’ potent offense produced nine hits and took advantage of seven errors by the Ursuline Fighting Irish to register an easy 10-2 win in a Division III regional semifinal Thursday at Washington High School.

“We hit this morning; we hit when we got here and we hit during the game,” Noble said. “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Somer McCoy led the offensive onslaught with two doubles and four RBIs. Her first double, in a six-run second inning, came with the bases loaded and drove in Lauren Rutherford, Laura Hall and Brooklyn Weber.

Jessica Buck and Kasey Rininger both had two hits and drove in one run, and Hall had a pair of RBIs.

It was apparent from the early going that the Vikings felt comfortable against Irish starting pitcher Makayla Shore.

“We saw her earlier in the season and we hit her then, too,” McCoy said. “This time I knew we were going to hit her again. We worked the outside corner a little bit, but then she started going in on us and we picked it up right away.”

The run support was plenty for sophomore pitcher Emily Dugan, who scattered nine hits. Dugan struck out six batters and walked one.

The only concern for Dugan after the second inning was to avoid a letdown with such a large lead.

“I told them don’t even look at that scoreboard because that scoreboard doesn’t matter a bit. We have to play our hardest because you never know if they can come back,’ ” Dugan said.

One large difference was the defensive play behind the pitchers. Dugan received solid support as the Vikings committed only one error. Shore wasn’t so lucky. The run of errors led to nine unearned runs, including all six in the second.

While the Vikings appeared relaxed and confident, the Irish seemed a bit rattled.

“A lot of us are travel players, so right now we’re kind of in a comfort zone,” senior Jessica Buck said. “We feel it’s kind of like travel ball. Coach told us if it’s district, state or regional, it’s just a softball game. We played 22 games this season. It’s nothing different. Don’t let anything else get in your head. It’s working.”

The Vikings sent 11 batters to the plate in the second. Skyler Gilanyi began the uprising with a single. Rutherford walked and Hall reached on a fielding error that allowed Gilanyi to score.

Danielle Miracle then struck out. Shore should have avoided further damage when she got McCoy to pop up in foul territory, but the ball was dropped by the catcher to extend the at-bat. McCoy made the Irish pay for the error with a shot to the fence.

Buck singled in McCoy, and then Buck scored on a single by Rininger.

The Vikings added three unearned runs in the fifth inning. Gilanyi and Rutherford both reached on infield errors. Gilanyi scored on a sacrifice bunt by Hall. Rutherford crossed the plate when pinch hitter Madison Kiser reached on the third error in the inning. Kiser scored on McCoy’s second double.

Rininger singled and scored on a single by Hall in the sixth.

The Irish scored an unearned run in the third. Shore singled and pinch runner Kelsey Cannell scored on a double by Dana Creatore in the seventh.

The Vikings (18-8) will play Columbia Station Saturday at noon for the regional title. The Irish finished with a 20-10 record.

“I don’t want it to be over because I love my team,” McCoy said.