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Lady Bulldogs keep on rolling as tournament nears
May 1, 2019

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About the only thing that can slow down the Poland softball team these days is inactivity.

A doubleheader planned for last weekend at YSU was postponed due to wet grounds. Two more games against Niles were also not played due to a snafu with Spring Break. Since Niles was off from school some of its athletes were out of town leaving the team understaffed. The pair of tilts with the Lady Red Dragons will need to be made up since those are conference games. Hopefully, the YSU double dip will also be played this coming Sunday. Meanwhile, the 16-0 Lady Bulldogs will take on all comers at any time.

"We need to be playing," said head coach Jim Serich. "It would be great to get those four games in. This group of kids is great, they just roll with the punches."

It was senior starting pitcher Ashley Wire that has been punching out opposing batters a lot as of late. Wire upped her season mark to 9-0 thanks to a pair of near perfect performances. In an 11-1 victory over Richmond Edison on April 24, the senior slinger gave up just one run on seven hits and struck out six. A few games earlier, Wire was even more wonderful. She spun a no-hitter at Girard as the Bulldogs prevailed 13-0.

While Wire was masterful in the pitching circle versus the Lady Indians, Poland's offense was paced by junior Kaili Gross who went 4 for 5 with a home run and three singles. Senior Laura Sienkiewicz slapped a two-run double. Senior Tori Modarelli had two hits. Freshman Abby Farber knocked in a run.

In the win over Edison, it was junior Ally Nittoli who shined the brightest. Nittoli knocked out a homer and had two runs batted in. Sophomore Jackie Grisdale had two hits and two RBIs. Farber also had two hits.

Poland also downed Girard a second time by the score of 10-1. Down 1-0, the Bulldogs blasted their way back into the game by scoring 10 unanswered runs. Gross was the winning pitcher giving up one run on two hits and fanning ten in her complete game. She also collected two hits and two RBIs. Wire took a break from breaking hearts from the pitching circle and, instead, did it with the bat in her hands. She went 3 for 4 with an RBI. Nittoli and Grisdale also had ribbies.

The Bulldogs long winning streak was at peril when they played at Boardman on April 25. Serich's girls trailed 6-5 entering the final frame when they came from behind with three runs. They then held off a late Lady Spartans charge to escape 8-7. Wire had the game-winning hit with a two-run single in the seventh. She added two other safeties. Junior Brooke Bobbey and Grisdale both had multiple hits for the winners.

Coach Serich hopes the long layoff due to the uncontrollable circumstances doesn't mess with his group's magnificent momentum. Poland was to play a pair with Hubbard this past Monday and Tuesday. The makeup with Niles also needs to be played to settle the Northeast 8 conference. At press time, Poland just needed to win out to win the league. The coach also expects to play at YSU on Sunday. One drawback to these plans is that this weekend is prom weekend at Poland, but Serich isn't concerned with getting any attitude from his young ladies.

"I'm happy with the way they are responding to prom weekend," said the coach. "The kids understand that we may have to play Thursday and Sunday and are willing to play. They need to keep playing to keep sharp."

The top seeded Bulldogs will also be playing in the Youngstown District of the state tournament on May 9. They will get a first round bye, then host the winner of the contest between number eight seed Struthers and ninth seeded Youngstown East. No doubt, the entire district will be gunning to put Poland down in the playoffs.

"We are ready to roll into the sectional final," said Serich. "This bracket is tough, but I know this group of kids will be ready."

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