The Grove City High School softball team earned a berth in the Division I state title game following a 9-1 win over Elyria in a state semifinal June 5 at Firestone Stadium in Akron.
The Greyhounds improved to 26-6 and will play three-time defending state champion North Canton Hoover in the title game Saturday, June 7, in Akron.
Hoover, which is 28-3, reached the title game after rallying past Lebanon 5-3 in the other semifinal.
Elyria finished the season 23-8.
Senior pitcher Emma Cornell turned in another dominating performance in the win over Elyria with a complete-game effort. She took a perfect game into the sixth inning before Kelsey Plato led off with a walk.
Cornell lost her no-hitter in the seventh when Kaitlyn Laseke singled with two outs. Alex Dick followed with an RBI infield single to account for the Pioneers’ run.
Cornell, who improved to 17-3, allowed two hits, struck out eight and walked one.
After threatening in the first two innings, but failing to score, the Greyhounds took control in the third against starting pitcher Elizabeth Ellis, scoring six runs. Kennedy Beach had a two-run pinch-hit single and Kara Warren and Delaney Mixer added RBI singles to highlight the inning.
Grove City added three runs in the sixth on Warren’s bases-loaded triple.
Warren tripled, singled and drove in four runs, Mixer singled twice and doubled and Destini Ewing singled twice.
“Anybody who gets here at this time, you don’t know what to expect,” Grove City coach Ted Williams said of Elyria. “It was nice when we capitalized in the third inning and we put up six runs and we kind of calmed down a little bit.”
Hoover eliminated Grove City from the postseason the previous two seasons, winning 4-1 in a regional final last season and 3-1 in a regional semifinal in 2012.
“The three-time defending state champ, of course, we’d like that opportunity,” Williams said. “They came down to Columbus the last two years and beat us in the regional. Yes, we want to knock off the top dog. We want to try to take our shot at the crown.”
Jonathan Alder 4, Licking Valley 3
Licking Valley outhit Jonathan Alder 9-3 but stranded 10 runners, including leaving the bases loaded in the seventh, as it came up short of defending its Division II state championship.
The Pioneers play Lima Bath for the title at 10 a.m. June 7 at Akron Firestone Stadium after beating the Panthers 4-3 on June 5 at the same site.
Licking Valley finished 27-5 and Jonathan Alder improved to 28-1.
The Panthers left the bases loaded in the first, with Kori Caughenbaugh being thrown out at the plate for the second out and Shelby Robinson grounding out to end the threat.
An error led to two Jonathan Alder runs in the third but the Panthers tied it at 2 in the fourth on a two-run single by Caughenbaugh.
Jonathan Alder made it 4-2 in the sixth on a two-run triple by Sasha Hamlin.
Then with two outs in the seventh, Licking Valley’s Shelby McCombs singled and Kori Locke reached on a throwing error, with McCombs moving to third and Locke to second.
Sierra McConnell then singled up the middle to drive in McCombs. McConnell moved to second and Locke to third on the throw back in and Shelby Robinson walked, but Payton Brownlee grounded out to end the rally.