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    Cantini, Puruczky power Hornets to win over Hurricanes


    Gianna Cantini and Ava Puruczky combined for seven hits, including three for extra bases, and eight runs batted in to lead Kirtland to a 16-5 win over visiting Brooklyn on Thursday.

    As a team, the Hornets pounded out a season-high 19 hits in improving to 7-12 on the year.

    “After coming off a dominant pitcher the day before, the girls were eager to hit again,” said Kirtland coach Jamie Kamensky. “They were focused today and made adjustments from yesterday, which is another big part of the growing process. You could tell they were disappointed and wanted to get back at it. That makes me happy to see their hunger and want to perform at a higher caliber.”

    Cantini started the day by shutting Brooklyn down in the top of the first and after three straight hit batsmen loaded the bases, she hit a grand slam to give the Hornets an early 4-0 lead.

    “I love hitting and I really, really love hitting home runs,” Cantini said. “I made great contact today on my grand slam. It was really a long line drive that hit the top of the fence and went over. Absolutely slamming a ball with a bat brings me joy like nothing else could.”

    Puruczky then singled and scored on Mia Osborne’s groundout to push Kirtland’s lead to 5-0.

    Malia Becker and Madison Matijevic hit back-to-back singles to start the Kirtland second and Cantini followed with a triple. Puruczky then doubled and scored on an error to make it 9-0. Nikolena Samac, Osborne, and Gianna DiFranco also had hits in the inning.

    Brooklyn scored five runs in the third on four hits and two Kirtland errors but that’s as close as the Hurricanes would get.

    Puruczky hit a two-out single in the bottom half of the inning and scored on Samac’s single, leaving Kirtland ahead, 11-5.

    The Hornets tacked on five runs in the fourth to invoke the run-rule following’s Brooklyn final at-bat in the fifth.

    Osborne, who finished the game 2-for-3, singled to start that rally. DiFranco then singled to put runners at first and second and Madison Matijevic hit a one-out RBI single. Cantini followed with a two-run double and Puruczky singled.

    Puruczky finished the game 4-for-4. The four hits were a career-high.

    “I was seeing the ball really clearly today and the weather was great,” she said. “I picked a few pitches I liked and I was happy they made it through the gaps. I’m super excited to finally play high school ball. We are young and growing together and today we were all hitting awesome. Our team energy and support for each other helped my confidence.”

    Chloe Ungrady closed out the scoring with an RBI double.

    DiFranco, Matijevic, Samac, and Osborne each collected two hits for the Hornets.

    With a double, triple, and a home run, Cantini nearly hit for the cycle. She was hit by a pitch in the third inning.

    “A day where everyone hits feels the same as playing with a bunch of puppies,” Cantini said. “Ten different girls had hits today. Confidence is contagious and we fed off of each other. Nikolena Samac had a big game with two hits and rock-solid defense. She works really hard, and she’s seeing results. She was like a cat out there in the outfield today.”

    Kirtland travels to Crestwood on Monday.

    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.
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