Saturday, May 27
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    PAINESVILLE—Riverside edged visiting Chardon in a clash of two of the top teams in the Western Reserve Conference on Saturday, 3-2.

    With the win, Riverside improved to 8-1 overall and 3-0 in league play. Chardon dropped to 7-5, 2-1.

    “This was a huge win,” said Riverside coach Bill Ross. “(Chardon coach) Stewart (Landies) and I were talking before the game and we knew this was going to be a tight game and knew it was going to be a great game. I give them a lot of credit, that’s a great softball team in the other dugout.”

    Both teams put a runner on base in the first inning but neither could push across a run.

    After both sides were retired in order in the second, the Hilltoppers took a 1-0 lead in the third when Nicole Krakora and Grace Legan hit back-to-back one-out singles and Amy O’Brien hit a two-out RBI single.

    Riverside’s Megan Lehner singled with two outs in the bottom half of the inning but Chardon pitcher Sydney Murray struck out the next batter to end the threat.

    The Beavers rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fourth when Amanda Kolar hit a leadoff triple and scored on a dropped third strike. Emma Kovalchuk drew a walk immediately after Kolar’s triple and later scored on Maren Kelly’s sacrifice fly.

    “We’ve only trailed a couple of times this year,” Ross said. “The next inning, we were able to get the tying run and then put up a couple more later. This team can hit. Sometimes it takes us a little while to get it going but this team can definitely hit and it was great to see a senior in Amanda Kolar come out and have a big moment to get her offense going. Then Maren Kelly came up huge. We called her over during a timeout and told her she had a runner on third with less than two outs. You’re a hero if you hit a ground ball and you’re a hero if you hit a fly ball. We told her she didn’t have to get a hit to be a hero and she did that and that run turned out to be the game-winning run.”

    Riverside added another run in the bottom of the fifth.

    Emi Jeras hit a one-out single and Milana McCaleb beat out a bunt with two outs and the Hilltoppers intentionally walked Kolar to load the bases. Kovalchuk then was hit by a pitch to force home Jeras to push Riverside’s lead to 3-1.

    Chardon cut its deficit to 3-2 with a run in the top of the sixth.

    Sidney Nagaj led off with a double and moved to third on Sarah Sutton’s one-out bunt single.

    Sutton leads the Hilltoppers with three home runs this season but the Toppers needed to move runners into scoring position and opted for her to lay down a bunt.

    “To be honest, I kind of stole that from Coach Ross,” Landies said. “He bunted with Maren Kelly against us the inning before and nobody expected that, so we gave it a try. Sarah is deadly at that and we saw the opportunity and it was great.”

    Nagaj scored on a double steal and Mackenzie Kilpeck drew a two-out walk but Riverside pitcher Grace Fisher struck out the next batter to end the Chardon threat.

    Fisher retired the Hilltoppers in order in the seventh to seal Riverside’s win.

    “That’s a great softball team over there and they’re well-coached,” Landies said of Riverside. “We knew they were going to be tough beat out here today but I’m real happy with our kids. That’s the best Murray has pitched since she’s been in our program and I’m real happy with that and with how we played defense. We played a clean defensive game today and we hit the ball.”

    Lehner recorded two of Riverside’s five hits. Fisher allowed two earned runs on five hits and struck out 10.

    Murray allowed three runs on five hits and struck out eight.

    Chardon will get its chance to avenge this loss when it hosts Riverside on Thursday.



    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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