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Flashes slam South Range

Tribune Chronicle / Brian Yauger Champion’s Cassidy Shaffer, center, is congratulated by teammates after she hit a grand slam in the Golden Flashes’ 14-0 regional semifinal win over South Range.

MASSILLON — Champion continues their quest for a third consecutive state title after taking down South Range 14-0 in a Division III Massillon Regional semifinal.

“We’re excited,” Flashes coach Cheryl Weaver said. “We get to come back to Massillon for the regional final against Northwestern. We just have to be ready for them. We have a plan, so hopefully we can stick to it.”

Cassidy Shaffer hit a grand slam in the second inning to give Champion (27-2) a 7-0 lead. Shaffer, who finished with three hits and eight RBIs, wasn’t sure where the ball was going to land, so she just ran and hoped for the best.

“I didn’t even know it was going over,” Shaffer said. “I was just like hit and run. Just go.”

Shaffer also got some praise from her coach, who talked about all the long-balls her team hit.

“She’s a monster,” Weaver said. “She’s a tall, skinny girl, and the way she could hit that ball over there is great. Then Emma (Gumont)’s home run. Just all those different things. It’s just fabulous.”

Sophie Howell was on the mound for the Flashes in a complete-game performance in which she struck out nine.

Allison Smith was intentionally walked twice, and she made the Raiders pay, scoring each time. During the tournament, Smith takes it as a compliment despite the grumbles from her family.

“This time of year, it’s a compliment,” Smith said. “It’s the regional semifinals, and if I’m getting walked that means something must have gone right during the year. It doesn’t frustrate me because my team’s always there to hit me in. Very rarely do I stay stranded on the bag. My mom and grandma who drove an hour and 20 minutes don’t enjoy it though.”

Smith is excited about her team’s performance during the tournament and is ready for the next step toward state title number three.

“Our team is performing extremely well,” Smith said. “We are hitting one through nine through the batting lineup. With Sophie, how she throws every game, we’re going to do pretty good.”

Champion takes on West Salem Northwestern in the Massillon Regional final on Saturday at noon. The two teams don’t know too much about each other, but Weaver would rather let the game play out and is eager for the shot.

“I have at home a couple stats on a couple girls because they’re still in the northeast district like we are, so we just had our voting this past week,” Weaver said. “They got some stats on us. We got some stats on them. But you still got to play the game. It doesn’t matter. Being back in the finals, there’s no words that can describe it. I mean, and especially for this many, you know, three times in a row like this. It’s just just amazing.”

Her team also is excited to be a part of another regional finals matchup.

“I’m really excited,” Howell said. “We’ve been playing really well so far in tournament play, so I’m hoping that we can keep doing that for these next three games.”

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