Transfers, traditions and top-ranked teams ready to rock at state softball tournament


State Softball Tournament

Friday at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Columbus Bishop
Ready’s softball team will make its first appearance at the state
tournament in 13 years. The Silver Knights pitcher however – Gabby
Gillilan – will be making her third trip in four years. A transplant from Carroll Bloom-Carroll, Gillilan twice won D-III state titles at B-C. Ready’s intrigue is just one of many to play out this weekend. Read on for more…

Friday at 10 a.m. at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Columbus Bishop Ready’s softball team will make its first appearance at the state tournament in 13 years. The Silver Knights pitcher however – Gabby Gillilan – will be starting her fifth game at state in four years.

A transplant from Carroll Bloom-Carroll prior to her senior season, Gillilan twice won D-III state titles at B-C.

She hopes to deliver Ready its second state title this weekend. The Silver Knights were state champs in 1995, runners-up in 1996 and semifinalists in 1984.

If Gillilan’s previous efforts at state are considered, Ready’s odds are better than most.
In four previous state games – she started both the semis and finals as a freshman and sophomore – Gillilan is 4-0 with one run allowed in 26 innings. She’s registered 31 strikeouts versus three walks and has allowed 15 hits.

Of course all that took place at Ashland’s Brookside Park. Last year the state tournament moved to Firestone and Ready’s opponent Friday – Heborn Lakewood – is the defending D-III state champs. The Lancers know Akron – and Gilliland.

Last year en route to the state championship, Lakewood beat Bloom-Carroll in the district final. It was Gilliland’s last game as a Bulldog.

Did someone say intrigue?

In a move seldom seen at state tournaments, the Division I teams are starting the three-day event. Hilliard Darby tackles Elyria in the state tournament opener at 10 a.m. Thursday. That game is followed but the other D-I semifinal between Colerain and Hudson at 12:30 p.m. The D-I state final is also the first of four on Saturday with the first pitch scheduled for 10 a.m.

Good thing they play the game. None of the D-II semifinalists were ranked in the final state poll.

Only Akron Springfield (nine) has more state titles than Tallmadge (seven). The Blue Devils are making their 14th trip to state and trying to win their first title since 1998.

Convoy Crestview doesn’t care where the state tournament is played. It just knows it plans to be there. The Knights are playing in their fifth straight state tournament and eighth since 2000. Crestview won its lone state title in 2005. The last two years the Knights have dropped one-run games in the semis.

Strasburg-Franklin is in its 10th state tournament and first since 2004. The Tigers are also looking for their fifth state title and first since 1991. S-F was runner-up in 2002.

Belleville Clear Fork is making its second appearance in the state tournament but first since 1980.

Tallmadge and Strasburg-Franklin have 11 state titles between them. The other 14 teams at state have a combined seven.

From the OHSAA

The 32nd Annual OHSAA State Softball Tournaments take place June 4-6 at Firestone Stadium in Akron.


10 a.m. – Division I semifinals – Hilliard Darby (21-8) vs. Elyria (27-3)
12:30 p.m. – Division I semifinals – Cincinnati Colerain (20-8) vs. Hudson (28-2)
3 p.m. – Division IV semifinals – Crestline (20-4) vs. Convoy Crestview (26-3)
5:30 p.m. – Division IV semifinals – Ansonia (26-7) vs. Strasburg-Franklin (29-2)

10 a.m. – Division III semifinals – Hebron Lakewood (28-4) vs. Columbus Bishop Ready (23-6)
12:30 p.m. – Division III semifinals – Magnolia Sandy Valley (24-5) vs. Youngstown Ursuline (26-5)
3 p.m. – Division II semifinals – Hamilton Ross (23-6) vs. Byesville Meadowbrook (22-7)
5:30 p.m. – Division II semifinals – Tallmadge (26-4) vs. Bellville Clear Fork (28-3)

10 a.m. – Division I finals

1 p.m. – Division IV finals

4 p.m. – Division III finals

7 p.m. – Division II finals

Complete statewide brackets for all divisions — beginning at the sectional tournament level — are available on the OHSAA Web site ( by going to “Sports” followed by “Softball.” The site will also include score updates the day following each game. State pairings will be available at the same location on the site on Sunday, May 31, provided there are no weather delays.

TOP-RANKED TEAMS (State Coaches Association Final Poll):
Division I: Elyria (advanced to state semifinals)
Division II: Mt. Orab Western Brown (lost regional semifinals)
Division III: Jeromesville Hillsdale (lost in district semifinals)
Division IV: Strasburg-Franklin (advanced to state semifinals)
ADMISSION: $8 per session (two games). All-tournament passes may be purchased at Firestone Stadium for $35.


Nearly half of the softball state tournament field didn’t appear in the final state rankings, as seven of the 16 qualifiers fell outside of the top 10 in the poll.

In Division I’s first semifinal, unranked Hilliard Darby matches up with top-ranked Elyria. Elyria, ranked No. 46 in the ESPN Rise Fab 50 poll, has finished as runner-up each of the past three seasons. The other semifinal has Cincinnati Colerain, in its first trip to the state tournament, meeting up with Hudson. Darby, Elyria and Hudson have each won a state championship since 2000.

None of the four Division II participants were ranked in the state poll. Hamilton Ross and Byesville Meadowbrook will face off in the first semifinal. Ross finished as the state runners-up in 2005, while this is Meadowbrook’s first time qualifying for the tournament. Tallmadge matches up with Bellville Clear Fork in the other semifinal. Tallmadge’s seven state titles are the second-most in state history, behind Akron Springfield’s nine, while Clear Fork is in the tournament for the first time since 1980.

Three of the four teams in Division III are ranked in the state poll. Hebron Lakewood is the lone school back to try to defend its 2008 state title. Ranked second in the state, Lakewood will play Columbus Bishop Ready in the first semifinal contest. Neither Magnolia Sandy Valley nor Youngstown Ursuline, who will meet in the other semifinal, have reached the state tournament before.

The Division IV field has three teams that have won state championships, and all four teams are ranked in the state poll. Crestline takes on Convoy Crestview in one semifinal. Crestview is the only school besides Hebron Lakewood to return to the state tournament this season. The other semifinal has Ansonia matched up with top-ranked Strasburg-Franklin. Ansonia has never appeared in the state tournament, while Strasburg-Franklin has won four state championships.


Division I: In a 10-inning game, North Canton Hoover (32-2) won its fourth state title after beating Elyria (28-2), 1-0. The Vikings overcame their struggles against junior pitcher Tess Sito with a two-out rally in the bottom of the 10th inning. Hoover senior Erin Riccardi had the game-winning RBI when her shot to right field scored senior McKenna Russ. Allowing no hits in the first seven innings, senior Jessica Simpson finished the game with a two-hitter for Hoover.

In the semifinals, Simpson struck out 11 and retired 14 of the Greyhounds’ last 15 batters for a 3-0 shut out against Grove City (28-4). Junior Erin Galloway had the only two hits and a walk for the Greyhounds. Elyria knocked Mason (24-9) out of the state tour¬nament for the second year in a row with an 11-2 victory in its semifinal game. Replacing injured junior Sarah Bracey in the batting line-up, senior outfielder Jessica Bellottie led the winning team with five RBI on two singles and a sacrifice fly. Sito chipped in, batting 4-for-4 and pitching a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts.

Division II:
In its first trip to the state tournament, the Lady Cardinals of Canfield (23-4-1) shut out Celina (24-4), 6-0 in the state championship game. The winning team was led by seniors Tricia Bettura, Melissa West and Bryanne Halfhill with two hits each and Lauren Sulick with three RBI. Bettura struck out 10 and walked none, holding the Bulldogs to only four hits.

Canfield defeated Clyde (24-3) 4-1 in its semifinal game. West had a home run and a double, driving in three runs for the Cardinals and Bettura allowed just one unearned run on four hits. Trailing 1-0 into the sixth inning, Celina was able to come back for a 5-1 win against Dover (19-12) in the semifinals. Freshman Abbey Zacharias had a two-run single in the sixth for the Bulldogs and senior Laura Homan was strong all-around with a two-run double in the seventh and throwing a two-hitter.

Division III:
Scoring all its runs in a single inning rally, top-ranked Hebron Lakewood (32-2) defeated unranked Wellington (23-5) 5-3 for the state title. The Lancers took the lead after a two-run double by junior Emily Voehringer and a three-run homer by senior Lindsay Barrett in the third. The Dukes rallied with a two-run double in the fifth by senior Melanie Conklin and sophomore Melissa Rennie’s home run in the sixth, but it was not enough to pull out a win for the Dukes.

In the semifinals, junior Alissa Birkhimer threw a one-hitter to help Hebron Lakewood shut out Bloomdale Elmwood (28-2) 5-0 in its first trip to the final four. Voehringer was the leading hitter for the Lancers with a double and a single. Wellington won 2-1 in extra innings against West Liberty-Salem (31-2) in its semifinal. Junior Haleigh

Hickenbottom’s lead-off home run in the top of the seventh gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead but the Dukes answered back with an RBI triple from senior Melanie Conklin in the bottom of the inning and an unearned run in the eighth for the win.

Division IV:
In its first championship appearance, Danville (22-6) made North Lewisburg Triad (21-10) the state runner-up for the third year in a row after defeating the Cardinals 4-2. Senior pitcher Baihley Presley pitched her team out of several jams and was also the leading hitter for the Blue Devils with a homer in the fourth and a single in the sixth. Sophomore Kaleigh Conner con¬tributed with a two-out double in the third to score senior Kelby Hammond. First baseman junior Amy Ropp led Triad with two hits.

In the semifinals, Danville senior Kayla Hughes had a two-out RBI single in the top of the seventh for 3-2 win against Convoy Crestview (26-2). Junior Michelle Eickholt had two hits for the Knights, one a two-run homer in the fourth. Senior catcher Chelsie Brooks hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 10th for a 5-1 Triad win against Warren John F. Kennedy (20-5) in its semifinal. Cardi¬nal junior pitcher Morgan Ryan tossed a complete-game six hitter, while junior Morgan Piaquadio and senior Jackie Kolovich had two hits each for the Eagles.

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