AKRON, Ohio – Heading into Friday’s OHSAA Division II state softball semifinal, the Keystone Wildcats had won 62 games in a row dating back to last season, when they won the state championship.
That streak came to end Friday, when the Wildcats lost 4-3 to Hebron Lakewood at Firestone Stadium.
After the loss, coach Jim Piazza sat at a table with seniors Sydney Campbell, Autumn Acord and Ali Pyles, along with junior Marlie McNulty. Campbell, Acord and Pyles choked back tears, but despite the loss, the Wildcats are still proud of what they have accomplished in the past two seasons.
“One game does not define this group, one game does not define them,” Piazza said. “And you can tell me another group that can go out there and win 62 straight games, and one loss is not going to define who they are.”
During this season’s playoffs, the Wildcats hadn’t given up more than one run. Out of their six playoff wins, four were shutouts. This game also marked the fewest runs they had scored this postseason.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh, Keystone was down 4-1. The Wildcats worked to rally, as junior infielder Angel Minisall doubled to right center with no one out. Minisall scored on an RBI double from McNulty, and then McNulty scored on an RBI single from sophomore Madi Herrington.
“I give these kids a lot of credit, they had a lot of heart in that last inning,” Piazza said. “They could have just easily quit, and they didn’t quit. They fought, they fought, they fought.”
Hebron Lakewood had its surge with three runs in the third inning. The Lancers had the bases loaded after senior catcher Tigan Braskie was intentionally walked with no outs. Sophomore Taylor Sailing, sophomore Keelie Davis and senior Emily Wallace all drove in runs.
Wildcats senior pitcher Sydney Campbell finished with nine strikeouts, and she gave up four hits. Campbell, an Oakland University commit, didn’t give up any hits after the third inning.
Campbell said she couldn’t have held the Lancers in check without her teammates’ help. She also said that even though Hebron Lakewood scored three runs in the top of the third, she was confident her team could come back.
“I’m so proud of the heart we showed, and we’ve been showing all season, and I couldn’t ask for better teammates,” Campbell said.
The Division II state final will be played at Firestone Stadium between Plain City Jonathan Alder and Hebron Lakewood on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Cameron Fields is a freelance writer based in Twinsburg.