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Toronto gains much-needed OVAC points with DH sweep

EYE ON THE BALL — Toronto’s Taylie Thomas bats against East Liverpool on Friday. (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

TORONTO — The Toronto softball team has entered crunch time.

With a close race for the final spots in the OVAC Class 2A tournament field coming down to the wire — and the push for sectional seeding looming — the Red Knights are in a pivotal stretch if they are going to accomplish the goals head coach Steve Trifonoff set before the season.

So far, so good.

The Red Knights added a pair of wins on Friday in a doubleheader with East Liverpool that will help bolster their OVAC position heading into today’s cutoff. Toronto (11-5) defeated the young, rebuilding Potters — a Class 4A team — 26-1 and 19-0 at Michael Simon Park for valuable OVAC points.

“We’re trying to build toward the tournament,” Trifonoff said. “We’re getting down to crunch time. The cutoff is (today) and, if we get in, Monday is the semifinal. Then, we have to start working toward the sectional to try and improve our draw.

“I sympathize with them (East Liverpool). They are rebuilding. It’s a tough spot to be in.”

Toronto entered the games sitting third in 2A, with the top four making the cut and with positions 2-8 locked in a tight race.

“We needed the points,” Trifonoff said. “We’re not locked in to the top four, but this should really help. We talked before the game about how important these two games were. We still have all of our goals ahead of us here. Make the OVAC and try to make the district are our goals every year. Our main goal now is to win the OVAC tournament. We’ve made the tournament the last three years and played in the finals the last two years. Our goal now is to win the OVAC and try to win the district.”

With a potential spot in the OVAC field and the stretch run to sectionals ahead, the schedule gets tough, starting with the coming week.

“We have a couple games next week with Columbiana,” Trifonoff said. “I think they are ahead of us in the EOAC (Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference) and have four losses. That will be a good matchup for us.”

The Red Knights’ losses have all come against good teams, and most of them have been competitive games.

“We lost two games to East Palestine and two games Lisbon,” Trifonoff said. “Lisbon is undefeated, and East Palestine is really good. Lisbon beat us pretty good once but, the other three, we were right in them. We lost to Shadyside once. All in all, I think we have played really well.”

Jamie Anderson started the first game Friday and pitched two innings, striking out four while not allowing a hit. She had a double and plated runs with the bat, too, as her coach feels she’s really starting to find her game.

“I think (Jamie Anderson) is really getting to where she is locked in,” he said. “Lisbon, I think, is in a league of their own in terms of hitting. Jamie pitched up there and, even though we lost 6-0, she only gave up one earned run. We had costly errors. She pitched well, and that is sign that she is getting locked in. Jamie is one of the best players, not just in 2A, but also the entire OVAC and the entire district.”

Some other Red Knights are stepping up into their roles and have impressed Trifinoff.

“Lexi Thomas, offensively, has been a great surprise,” he said. “Maddie Anderson had never played first base in her life, and she has really come along. Shanna Reed has provides senior leadership.”

Riley Kinsey pitched the last two innings of the first game, and all four played in the second game. She struck out two in the first game, then fanned five in the second, including striking out the side to end the game in the top of the fourth.

East Liverpool head coach Ryian Burson knew Toronto would be a tough matchup for his young team.

“(Toronto) is good at softball and baseball every year,” he said. “They have a good program. You have to have a lot of respect for what they have done here. Coming off of a year last year where we lost six seniors, we’re looking at a program right now with 26 kids, and 20 of them are freshmen and sophomores. Of the 26, 19 or 20 of them have never played softball before. We are in a rebuilding process. You can’t complain about this year. We are very young, but we have a lot of talent and capability in the next few years, and even the rest of this year.

“We’re vastly improved from the beginning of the year. We have had some ups and downs with injuries, but with where we started, you can’t complain with how far we’ve come.”

UP NEXT

East Liverpool: Is at Barnesville today.

Toronto: Has one more shot to bolster its chances of a fourth consecutive appearence in the OVAC tourney today when it travels to Shadyside, who sits just behind Toronto in fourth in 2A, as of Friday. A match-up Trifonoff knows from the previous meeting, a 4-1 loss April 12, it will be a tough game.

“I was really impressed with Shadyside. They put the ball in play, they might have made one error against us. For someone else who was supposed to be rebuilding with a young team, they were impressive.”

(Grimm can be reached at agrimm@heraldstaronline.com)

Game 1

Toronto 26, East Liverpool 1

E. Liverpool 0-0-0 1 –1-0-11

Toronto 19-2-5 x — 26-8-1

EAST LIVERPOOL: Golden (lp, CG, 26R, 15ER, 8H, 1K, 11BB, 2HBP) and Dunlap, Smith.

TORONTO: J. Anderson (wp, 2IP, 0R, 0H, 4K, 0BB), Kinsey (2IP, 1R, 1ER, 0H, 2K, 0BB, 1HBP) and Reed, Price.

TWO OR MORE HITS: East Liverpool none; Toronto (Sapp 2). DOUBLES: East Liverpool none; Toronto 1 (J. Anderson). TRIPLES: none. HOME RUNS: none. RBIs: East Liverpool none; Toronto 20 (Kinsey 2, J. Anderson 5, Sapp 4, L. Thomas, Swearingen, Smith, M. Anderson 2, Meriedith 2, Liddick, T. Thomas).

Game 2

Toronto 19, East Liverpool 0

E. Liverpool 0-0-0 0 — 0-0-3

Toronto 6-6-7 x — 19-5-0

EAST LIVERPOOL (0-17): Golden (lp, 2IP, 12R, 8ER, 4H, 1K, 9BB), Watson (7R, 6ER, 1H, 0K, 5BB, 2HBP) and Jones.

TORONTO (11-5): Kinsey (wp, CG, 0R, 0H, 5K, 1BB, 1HBP) and Price.

TWO OR MORE HITS: East Liverpool none; Toronto (Smith 2). DOUBLES: East Liverpool none; Toronto 2 (C. Sanseverino, Smith). TRIPLES: East Liverpool none; Toronto 1 (Liddick). HOME RUNS: none. RBIs: East Liverpool none; Toronto 9 (Kinsey, Price 2, Swearingen, C. Sanseverino, Liddick, T. Thomas, M. Anderson, Smith).

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