MUNSON TOWNSHIP—Kayla Noerr had three hits and struck out 13 in leading Chardon to a Division I sectional championship with a 7-0 win over visiting Twinsburg on Wednesday.
Noerr pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fourth inning to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard, which allowed Chardon’s offense the time it needed to find its groove after playing just one game in the last week and a half.
“That was huge,” said Chardon coach Stewart Landies. “It’s tough being off for that long and my biggest fear was just seeing live pitching or what have you, so I’m real happy to see the kids turn it around. That was huge getting out of that inning. (It’s big) anytime you can do that and come back the next inning and start putting the bat on the ball. I knew the kids were going to hit the ball, it was just whether or not it was going to start falling or not and it started falling.”
Chardon’s hitters had several loud at-bats before exploding for five runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Sarah Sutton led off the Chardon first with a double and Noerr hit a rocket to left for a single in the third. Madison Russo fouled off five pitches before drawing a walk in the same inning and Maddie Hauser hit six fouls—several of them with home run length—before flying out to end the inning.
“The kids were putting good swings on it,” Landies said. “We knew it was going to happen but it’s one of those things, it’s still softball or baseball, whatever you want to call it, and you’ve got to play the game. Once we got through the order once, I had some good confidence that coming back through again we were going to do alright.”
The Toppers exceeded their coach’s expectations.
After a groundout to start the inning, Chardon strung together seven hits to break the game open.
Sydney Murray, Sidney Nagaj, Grace Legan, Sutton, Lindsey Leggett, Noerr, and Russo all singled in the inning.
The bottom of Chardon’s order manufactured another run in the fifth when Murray led off the frame with a double and later scored on a Legan groundout.
Murray, Nagaj, and Legan combined to go 5-for-9 at the plate with four runs scored and an RBI.
“Those three right there keyed us and we’ve been talking about that,” Landies said. “We’re not looking for home runs; we’re looking to get on base so we can get the top of our order back up again. They changed their mindset today and they did a great job.”
Leggett and Noerr hit back-to-back singles to start the Chardon sixth and Hauser hit a sacrifice fly to close out the scoring.
Noerr finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI. She also struck out two or more batters in five of the seven innings she pitched.
Sutton, Leggett, Murray, and Nagaj each finished with two hits for the Hilltoppers, who improved to 16-5 overall.
The Hilltoppers advanced to the Austintown District tournament where they’ll face top-seeded Fitch on Monday.
But first, the Hilltoppers have some unfinished business as they’re on pace to win the first league title in school history.
To do that, they’ll have to beat Mayfield on Thursday and Brush on Friday.
“We’re kind of putting the playoffs to the side and now we’re focused on the (Western Reserve Conference),” Landies said. “We’ve got a huge game against Mayfield (on Thursday) and it’s Senior Day, we want to perform for those girls, and then Brush on Friday.”