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    Five area pitchers are in the running for the Ohio Varsity Pitcher of the Year Award, which will be presented at the 2023 Ohio Varsity All-Star Classic on June 22.

    Listed below is each finalist in alphabetical order:

    KRISTIN DEMS, MENTOR

    Kristin DemsAs a senior, Dems finished the season 13-4 in the circle with a 2.05 earned run average in leading the Cardinals to a Division I district championship game and the Greater Cleveland Conference title.

    Dems allowed 32 earned runs on 99 hits with an opponent’s batting average of .312 and 137 strikeouts to just 13 walks in 109 innings of work.

    She was 10-0 in league play with a 1.378 earned run average. She allowed 12 earned runs on 43 hits and struck out 79 in 61 innings of play on the way to earning the league’s Player of the Year honor.

    Dems was at her best in the clutch.

    In two games against Brunswick, to decide the GCC championship, she was 2-0 and allowed just two earned runs on 11 hits and struck out seven in 14 innings.

    She also limited Austintown Fitch, a Division I state semifinalist, to just two runs, the Falcons’ second-lowest run total of the regular season. The Falcons average over 10 runs per game.

    “Dems led the team to 10-0 in the GCC and a district finals playoff run,” said Mentor coach Jo Bondra. “In the district finals, she was able to keep (Austintown) Fitch’s offense to two runs.”

    CLARA GRANCHI, RIVERSIDE

    Clara GranchiGranchi’s first season with the Beavers was a good one in the circle and at the plate.

    The freshman burst onto the scene with a 12-4 record and a 2.06 ERA, with a perfect game in her postseason debut.

    She allowed 29 earned runs on 87 hits with an opponent’s batting average of .225 and 121 strikeouts to just 11 walks in 98 1/3 innings.

    “Clara burst onto the scene as a freshman,” said Riverside coach Bill Ross. “She had some very big wins for us and pitched against some tough opponents. She threw a perfect game in the first round of the playoffs.”

    MAGGIE GRANT, CARDINAL

    Maggie GrantThe second of two freshmen to earn consideration for the Pitcher of the Year award, Grant is the pitcher the Huskies have been waiting for.

    She helped Cardinal more than double its win total from the 2022 season.

    Grant was 5-12 in the circle, accounting for each of the Huskies’ wins, with a 3.591 ERA. She allowed 46 earned runs on 94 hits with an opponent’s batting average of .223 and 145 strikeouts to 62 walks in 89 2/3 innings.

    “There’s only so much you can say about our freshman pitcher, Maggie Grant,” said Cardinal coach Haley Adams. “As soon as she started training in February, we knew she was going to be something, extremely special and a great addition to our team. Maggie is one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached, in terms of always expecting perfection from herself. She put a lot of pressure on herself as a freshman and expected so much. At times, this could hurt Maggie, but she grew into an extremely strong leader by the end of the season. One of my favorite memories from this season was Maggie striking out Berkshire’s leadoff batter with bases loaded, and the game tied at one. That play was huge for Maggie as a freshman to build confidence in herself, but for her teammates as well. We are excited to add important pieces to our puzzle this upcoming season to help Maggie on the mound. This young team has a lot of potential and truthfully, it starts with Maggie in the circle.”

    JENNA HENDRICKS, CHARDON

    Jenna HendricksAs a junior, Hendricks finished the season 10-2 with a 1.974 ERA and a .233 opponent batting average.

    She allowed 25 earned runs on 82 hits and struck out 86 to just 12 walks in 88 2/3 innings of work.

    “Jenna missed seven of the last eight games of the season due to a concussion,” said Chardon coach Stewart Landies. “Prior to injury, she dominated in the circle. Not overpowering, but her accuracy, and ability to hit spots and spin the ball, made her a real problem for opposing batters.”

    KARA MEKULSIA, MADISON

    Kara Mekulsia
    Screenshot

    Mekulsia’s sophomore season saw her finish the year with a 12-8 record and a 4.67 ERA with an opponent’s batting average of .282.

    She was a big reason the Blue Streaks won 14 games and a sectional title this season after a five-win season in 2022.

    She allowed 82 earned runs on 154 hits and struck out 139 to just 50 walks in 122 2/3 innings.

    “Kara emerged this season as one of the better pitchers in the area,” said Madison coach David Negin. “Her 139 strikeouts are very noteworthy. She won 12 games for us this season, holding some good offensive teams down with wins over North (2-1), Perry (5-4), Edgewood (4-3 and 9-4), Kenston (13-0), Mayfield (5-1 and 13-2), along with a huge win over Uniontown Lake in the sectional championship.”

     

     

     

    Steve Hare
    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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