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Leading the way: Pitching duo of Toth and Kennedy playing important role in Canfield’s playoff run

Staff photo / Neel Madhavan Canfield’s Malena Toth fires a pitch earlier this season against Austintown Fitch. Toth threw a perfect game in the Cardinals’ 10-0 sectional final playoff win over Geneva on Thursday.

CANFIELD — When Malena Toth walked off the field Thursday, no one would have guessed that she had just thrown a perfect game.

Fifteen batters faced, 15 batters down and out in the Cardinals’ 10-0 sectional final playoff win over Geneva, and yet the sophomore had the same demeanor she always does — calm and focused, according to coach Joe Angelo.

“(The perfect game) was wonderful to watch — I was so excited to see her perform,” Angelo said. “She’s an athlete that is really focused. You couldn’t tell if she just pitched a perfect game or gave up five home runs in a single inning. Her expression is identical on both ends of the spectrum.”

Against the Eagles, Toth threw 55 total pitches, with 45 of them being strikes. She finished with 13 strikeouts and the two times that the ball was put in play, both ended in simple groundouts at first base.

“It was really special for me, just knowing that it’s something that not a lot of people can accomplish,” Toth said. “Inside spots are my best (pitches), so I just stuck to that.”

Toth is part of a one-two punch in the circle for Canfield, along with junior Bella Kennedy.

The pitching duo is a big reason why the Cardinals have advanced to the district playoffs and have now won eight straight games, including 13 of their last 14, after an 11-1 win over Warren G. Harding in five innings Friday afternoon.

Kennedy gave up just two hits and no earned runs, while striking out 11 with no walks against the Raiders.

“They augment each other with different speeds and different movement pitches,” Angelo said. “Both of them are capable of stepping in and getting the job done at any point in the game.”

The two may have different pitching styles, yet they both complement each other for the Cardinals.

“Me and Bella are really good friends and I think we work really well together,” Toth said. “We always support each other and we know that if one of us is struggling, then the other has their back.”

However, fielding goes hand-in-hand with pitching, as the two work together as the team’s defense, which has been paramount during Canfield’s recent run.

“Our defense has been solid,” Angelo said. “Actually the first inning (against Harding) was the first time we’ve made some errors in a lot of games. Errors have been few and far between and the ladies have really stepped up defensively, but pitching is the cornerstone of this sport. It can make or break a team.”

And with Canfield now in the district playoffs next week, Toth and Kennedy’s pitching becomes all the more important, as each progressing round is an elimination game. Nerves get tighter, the zone seemingly gets smaller and the teams and hitters get better.

“When it comes down to it, there’s going to be a bunch of one-run games in our future,” Angelo said. “You have to win those one-run games and pitching is a huge part of that. I rely on those two young ladies and so far, they haven’t let their team down and they’ve impressed me at every turn.”

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