Ursuline’s Ross comes through again in win

CANFIELD – Less than 24 hours after her first taste of the spotlight, Ursuline freshman Megan Ross experienced it again.

Her second hit to right field. Her second game-winning RBI scoring Maddie Christoff. And her second postgame interview with local reporters.

She felt more comfortable with all three events as the Fighting Irish downed South Range, 2-1, in a nine inning Division III district final at South Range High School.

“It was a good feeling – again,” Ross said. “(The interview) was the same, kind of. (The hit) was fine to adjust to. They were playing in on me so I just tried to tap it over their heads. It was outside so I just drove it that way.”

On Thursday, she pushed a ground ball to the right side after Christoff drove in three runs on a double in the bottom of the seventh inning against Newton Falls. Christoff, a senior, collected three hits on Friday.

“Between Megan and Maddie getting hot both days at the right time and being clutch is great,” said Ursuline coach Michael Kernan. “They’re hot hitters; we’ll take it.”

In his 12th year leading the Irish, Kernan is 7-2 in district title games. The Raiders also have a storied tradition in the tournament.

The senior class won four-straight Inter Tri-County League Upper Tier titles, lost just two league games and made two appearances in the regional tournament. They finished the season at 25-3, the best season since winning 27 games in 2009.

After committing just one error in its past eight games, South Range had five against Ursuline. It also stranded 10 runners on base.

“It’s frustrating,” Raiders coach Don Feren said. “But in their defense, they put the ball in play and challenged us to make tough plays and we didn’t. Ursuline got the key hits and the key outs when they needed to. We left a lot of girls on in key positions that we should’ve got in.”

Irish pitcher Makayla Shore escaped a jam in the eighth when Stevie Taylor led off with a single. Shore retired the next two batters, but allowed Lexi Naples to reach base when a dribbler up the middle snuck under her legs. Taylor advanced to third on the error.

“I knew that the game wasn’t over, by any means, at that point,” Shore said. “We definitely had to regroup and I wanted to make sure that I made the next out be as easy as possible.”

After a 3-2 count and a 10-pitch at bat, Kara Taylor grounded out. Shore finished with four strikeouts. Her and Macey Gunther, the team’s top batters, went hitless on Friday and combined to go just 2-16 in the district tournament.

“We worried about Gunther and Shore doing most of their damage and they didn’t do anything,” Feren said. “The younger girls stepped up.”

Christoff plated Dana Creatore in the top of the fourth for Ursuline (20-9). South Range answered in the bottom half with Morgan Renforth’s RBI double.

Carly DeRose, a Slippery Rock recruit, struck out six Ursuline batters. Anny Carroll had the Irish’s only other hit, a third inning single.

“We knew we were a good enough team if we played to our potential that we could play with anybody and beat anybody,” Kernan said. “We got in fights all year. South Range was going to be a heck of a battle and that’s what we got.”