By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Elyria Softball Classic has been a place of futility for Westshore teams since the turn of the century. The only team from Cuyahoga county to ever win the tourney was North Olmsted in 2002 – the year Elyria lost its own tournament, but won the state championship.
The three area teams competing this year were Bay, Fairview and North Olmsted, all which lost in the opening round.
Fairview drew the opening round game against eventual champion Elyria and lost 8-0, in a shortened five inning game. The Warriors’ record going into the tournament was 3-6 – after starting the season 0-4. The Warriors are in its first year playing in the tough Patriot Athletic Conference.
“We’ve only had four conference games so far, but the pitching is definitely better (in the PAC, as opposed to the West Shore Conference),” said Fairview head coach Kathryn Bzdafka. “If we make the plays we can make, and do the little things right, we can hang with anybody.
“So far, we’re still trying to get our feet wet (in the conference) and figure it out,” she added. “We’re getting better.”
The Warriors running game has been ahead of its pitching and defense so far this season.
“Our strength this year has probably been our speed,” Bzdafka said. “Our outfield is playing pretty much lights-out. Our top of the order is getting (on base) and we’re finding ways to get them in, and they’re stealing bases.
“Pitching-wise and defensively, we’re still trying to work out our kinks.”
Fairview’s roster is full of underclassmen who are expected to mature over time.
“We only have four returning varsity players this year, so we’re very, very young,” Bzdafka said. “Our young girls are doing pretty well. It’s hopeful for the next couple of years.”
North Olmsted played against Midview in its tournament opener, and lost 3-2 on two consecutive passed balls in the bottom of the seventh inning. The latter part of the game was slowed by rain delays, including a long downpour during the final act.
The Eagles started the season strong, but they have stubled as of late, bringing a 4-5 record into the weekend.
“We’ve hit a little skid here,” said North Olmsted’s first year head coach John Wadas. “Our defense is kicking the ball around a little bit, and our bats haven’t overcome it yet.
“We have a lot of inexperience (this year),” he added. “We graduated seven (girls) last year.”
The Eagles will need their younger girls to advance quickly to compete at a high level in its conference.
“The Southwestern Conference, every year, is competitive from top to bottom,” Wadas said. “On any given day, anybody can beat anybody.
“The good thing is, we play everybody twice and we feel we’ll be ready for them the next time around.”
Bay lost in the first round to Southview High School 9-1 in a shortened, five inning game.
Due to time resraints, the Rockets head coach Katie McCarthy was unavailable for comment.