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Published: Sunday, 6/6/2004

Gibsonburg is edged

BY CRAIG MANTEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Amanda Ronk slides home in the fourth inning for Crestline s first run as Gibsonburg s Julie Beaschler gets the ball too late. Amanda Ronk slides home in the fourth inning for Crestline s first run as Gibsonburg s Julie Beaschler gets the ball too late.
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ASHLAND, Ohio - The only word to describe it is frustrating.

Ali Warren outpitched counterpart Meghan Ronk from Crestline, Gibsonburg outhit the Bulldogs, and the Golden Bears were more impressive in the field.

Nevertheless, second-ranked Crestline (28-4) captured the Division IV state softball championship yesterday with a 2-1 victory at Brookside Park and denied the Bears a record-tying fourth consecutive state championship. The only school to accomplish that feat was Akron Springfield (1992-95).

The girls played their hearts out, said Gibsonburg coach Erika Foster, whose fourth-ranked Bears suffered their first loss in their eighth game at the state tournament. This was a great game.

But I really do believe that things happen for a reason. For three years we ve had balls fall our way [here]. It just wasn t meant to be. I couldn t ask for more from the girls.

Not when they banged out eight hits against Ronk, who threw a one-hitter against the Bears (25-7) in a state semifinal last year but lost 1-0. Not when Warren (24-7) retired the side in order five times and yielded just five hits and a walk while striking out three.

Gibsonburg had baserunners in every inning but one and ended up stranding nine, including six in scoring position.

It was really quite frustrating to have that many runners on and not make things happen,” Foster said. “All we needed was that one hit. Quite a few times we had them on in scoring position and [the hit] didn t fall. It didn t happen for us this year.”

The Bears scored their lone run in the top of the fifth inning. No. 9 hitter Kate Ackerman singled to center and was sacrificed to second by Aisha Kaemming before racing home when Jessica Swain lined a shot through the box for an RBI single.

But that would be the lone Gibsonburg hit with runners in scoring position. Julie Beaschler, who went 2-for-4, was stranded at second in the first after crushing a two-out double that short-hopped the fence in left field. Following a Sarah Gruner single and an error the Bears had runners on first and second with one out the next inning, but Ronk (18-2) wiggled out with a strikeout and a groundout to third. In the fourth, Gruner and Kristen Dix singled with two outs, but Alexis Donnell flied out to center. And,

Give Gibsonburg credit,” Crestline coach Heath Sager said. “They really had short swings. Everybody was making contact. That s the mark of a championship team; they were going to make us make plays.

The Bulldogs got the victory for Meghan Ronk with single runs in the fourth and seventh innings.

Amanda Ronk led off the fourth with a single, stole second, and just slid into home ahead of the throw after Dawn Collins slapped a single past a diving Kaemming at short.

Crestline s momentum was obliterated when charging center fielder Swain caught a sinking liner to center and doubled up Collins at second.

That was just one of several fine defensive plays by the Bears.

But then, Brittany Kick led off the Crestline seventh with a double to the fence in right-center field. She was sacrificed to third and, after two Bulldogs reached on fielder s choices as the Bears focused on keeping Kick at third, Kristi Schwechheimer hit a bouncer that Donnell booted. It hardly mattered - she wouldn t have had time to get the out at home - and the game was over.

BLISSFIELD ADVANCES: Blissfield move on to the Michigan regionals in Division 3 with a pair of victories in district competition.

The Royals beat Erie Mason 7-2 in their first game, behind winning pitcher Justin Wilson (7-3). A two-run homer by catcher Zach Benko in the fifth inning put the game away.

Ryan Terry (8-2) blanked Ida 4-0 in the second game, recording 11 strikeouts.

ANDERSON 8 BEDFORD 6

Bedford (24-14) was knocked out of the Division 1 tournament, losing to Southgate Anderson 8-6 in the district finals.

The Mules, defending district champions, pounded Woodhaven 16-1 in the semifinals behind Justin Clark (9-4). Jake Hausenstein belted a pair of doubles and drove in three runs.



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