Clay has another Three Rivers crown on drawing board

J. Patrick Eaken

Clay softball fell to 21-7 after a 4-2 Division I regional final loss to Elyria (23-5) in Clyde Wednesday, but there was more to play for.
        The Eagles were tied with Whitmer for first place in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, and Clay has one game remaining — a suspended contest with Notre Dame. The game was tied at 0-0 in the third inning, and a Clay win will give them at least a co-championship.
        This would be Radabaugh’s 15th league title, most of them while coaching at Clay. In 27-plus years, Radabaugh’s softball teams have compiled a 545-190 record while earning 19 sectional and seven district championships.
        In the circle, senior Bri Pawlaczyk has been Clay’s ace, going 13-5 with 97 strikeouts, 45 walks, and a 2.16 ERA. She has allowed 38 earned runs in 105.2 innings. A transfer from a Michigan high school before her junior year, this is her second season as Clay’s starter and plays first base when not pitching.
        “She’s been doing a great job for us,” Radabaugh. “She has the majority of our wins — pitches in the big games.
        “We didn’t really have a back-up pitcher, so we threw in sophomore Bella Kennedy,” Radabaugh continued. “She hadn’t pitched in a few years and played second on the JV team last year. She has stepped up and done a great job for us. She doesn’t have a ton of speed but she has great accuracy. She hits her spots.”
        Kennedy, who plays right field when not pitching, is 7-1 with 35 strikeouts and 17 walks with a 2.29 ERA in the circle. She has given up 14 earned runs in 55 innings.
        At the plate, Clay has nine players batting over .300, led by Tiffany Stevens, who is hitting .494 with 10 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 27 RBIs and 13 stolen bases, plus an .809 slugging percentage and .558 on base percentage. She has signed to play NCAA Division I softball at the University of Akron, although a new coaching staff there announced two weeks ago could change things.
        “She’s had a great season for us. She’s been leading the TRAC most of the year in batting average and that kind of stuff, so she’s been very productive for us as far as RBIs and getting on base.”
        Kennedy is hitting .467 with three doubles, 10 RBIs and four SB in limited plate appearances.
        Others are Kennedy Slovak (.397 BA, 7 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 24 RBIs, 8 SB), Pawlawczyk (.392, 8 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 30 RBIs, 5 SB), Macy Burgess (.384, 5 2B, 1  3B, 1 HR, 24 RBIs, 11 SB), Grace Smith (.355, 1 2B, 1 3B, 16 RBIs, 1 SB), Tori Gallaher (.338, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 14 RBIs, 8 SB), Jenna Vislay (.333, 5 2B, 2 3B, 15 RBIs, 3 SB) and Madison Yanez (.333, 6 2B, 13 RBIs, 10 SB).
        One of the issues with this team was early on when everyone was playing different positions.
        “We moved around our defense a lot at the beginning of the year,” Radabaugh. “We had seven returning starters but only two of those kids are playing in the same spot as the year before. Bri is still pitching and Tiffany Stevens is still playing center (field).”
        Another issue for Radabaugh’s team and others around Northwest Ohio have had to face is inclement weather this spring.
        “We’ve had a pretty good season — things have been going pretty well. We’ve been lucky we’ve been able to make up most of our games,” Radabaugh said. “There was one tournament down in Columbus that got rained out that we weren’t able to reschedule but everything else we’ve needed rescheduled has been.
        “It’s been crazy. So, we’ve been lucky in that regard. Early in the season we were kind of proactive on that. We were supposed to play on a Tuesday and it looked like rain so we scheduled a couple of our non-league games for Monday instead, so that helped us out.”


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