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    No. 14 Kirtland scored a 14-4 upset at No. 9 Springfield in a Division III sectional championship game on Thursday.

    With the win, the Hornets advanced to play No. 2 Youngstown Ursuline in a district semifinal on Tuesday at LaBrae High School.

    “We came into the game confident and ready to go,” said Kirtland coach Jamie Kamensky. “With the experience we had from last year, the girls understand what’s at stake.”

    Malia Becker hit a two-out triple in the top of the second inning and scored on one of Bella Hostutler’s three singles.

    Gianna Cantini singled and scored on Gianna DiFranco’s RBI single in the third. Grace Mastrangelo delivered a clutch single with two outs to push the Kirtland lead to 3-0.

    The Hornets exploded for five runs in the fourth.

    Becker hit a leadoff single and stole second. Hostutler followed with an RBI single and Madison Matijevic knocked her in with a single. After stealing second, Matijevic scored on Cantini’s RBI single. DiFranco and Ava Puruczky both followed with singles and Nikolena Samac added a single later in the inning.

    Kirtland added four more runs on three hits and two walks. Puruczky had an RBI double in the rally.

    Hostutler, Matijevic, Becker, and Puruczky each finished with three hits for the Hornets. Cantini and DiFranco both recorded two. Hostutler knocked in a team-best four runs.

    “We had another game with girls who had multiple hits,” Kamensky said. “Malia Becker sparked us though with a huge triple in her first at-bat.”

    Springfield rallied for four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning but Cantini held off the Tigers the rest of the way.

    “Gianna Cantini threw a gem,” Kamensky said. “The girl came in locked and loaded. Mattey Matijevic was on fire calling pitches as well.”

    Cantini allowed four runs on three hits and struck out 10.

    “I was feeling great and hitting my spots most of the game, except the sixth inning when I think maybe I was distracted by a puppy at the park,” Cantini said. “Winning sectionals my senior year means a lot to me, probably the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest or, you know, another thing that’s like hard to do.”

    Matijevic singled and scored on Puruczky’s RBI single in the seventh to close out the scoring.

    “We lost a little focus as we got into the fifth inning, so we know what we need to clean up,” Kamensky said. “We’re going against a really strong Ursuline team on Tuesday. They have some hitters who are really hot right now so we need to prepare and we need to come ready to play.”

    Cantini shut down Springfield in order to close out the game.

    She thrived in the circle behind a big-time offensive performance.

    “It’s great that my teammates are all hitting so well,” she said. “We’ve had a couple of big offensive performances lately. We’re like the Paw Patrol; no job is too big, no pup is too small.”

    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, 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 IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com 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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