State champion Wildcats have community excited

The Southington 9-10 year-old girls softball team won the Ohio Girls Softball Organization state title in late July. Team members include (front, from left) Morgan Strock, Abbey Castle, Abby Iceman, Kelsey Kren, Julia Piecuch, Colleen Castle, Hannah Myers, (middle, from left) Angel Aikens, Jaclyn Blake, Tatum Hudak, Abby Grimm, Gabby Hromada, Sammy Strock, (rear, from left) coaches Dottie Kren, Sam Grimm, Rich Hudak, Tim Grimm, Mandi Myers and Tiffany Hudak.

SOUTHINGTON — There was a cause for celebration in Southington recently, as a group of girls realized their dreams, and brought the township together in the process.

The Southington 9-10 year-old girls softball team won the Ohio Girls Softball Organization (OGSO) state championship last month, defeating the Bristol Panthers, 16-8.

The girls were sent off to the four-team state tournament on July 23 with a firetruck escort and celebration. That very same firetruck welcomed the team back, as the Ohio State Highway Patrol blocked off state Route 534 and US 422, and residents stood on their porches and in their driveways, cheering the team on. It was the first OGSO state title in the township’s history.

“That was really cool,” assistant coach Tiffany Hudak — whose husband, Rich, is the team’s head coach — said, laughing. “A lot of the community came out to support us. (The girls) were thrilled, some of the girls had tears in their eyes, and they worked so hard all year.”

Tiffany and Rich have coached many of the girls for five years now, and to them, it was no surprise to see this team succeed like they did. All year long, the Lady Cats displayed their talents, as they won nine postseason games just to qualify for state, and ultimately, entered the tournament with a perfect 16-0 record.

Members of the Southington 9-10 year-old girls softball team are greeted by residents of the community after the Wildcats won the Ohio Girls Softball Organization state title in late July. It was the first OGSO state title for a Southington team.

After defeating numerous northeast Ohio teams, the Lady Cats headed up to Wellington (near Lorain), poised to complete a perfect run.

Despite the season that Southington had to that point, many of the teams they beat along the way, as well as teams in the state tournament, were from much bigger communities, making the Lady Cats somewhat of underdogs along the way. The Lady Cats squared off with North Ridgeville in the state semifinal, but needed just five innings to take care of business.

Southington beat North Ridgeville, 15-5, as Rich and Tiffany’s daughter, Tatum, struck out 12 batters in four innings. Gabby Hromada, meanwhile, finished off North Ridgeville with two strikeouts in the final inning to lift the Cats into the state title game.

Bristol, however, didn’t fare much better than North Ridgeville, as the Cats defeated the Panthers, 16-8. Hudak struck out nine, while catcher Hannah Myers hit for the cycle. Abby Iceman, meanwhile, had an inside-the-park home run, and first baseman Sammy Strock made a key double play in the game.

“We went into it undefeated and we knew we had a strong team, but it’s still shocking,” Tiffany Hudak said. “It’s really been fun (coaching this team). They knew what we expect from them, and the girls were so dedicated and all of the parents were very supportive.”