Rockets’ girls softball run ends just short of the state final

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

For the second time in three years, Oak Harbor reached the state semifinals.
Both times, the Rockets’ quest for a state championship ended with them falling short of the championship game.
Whether or not Oak Harbor ever gets over the hump is another matter, but it’s clear the Rockets have sustained themselves as one of the top programs in Northwest Ohio, if not the entire state, consistently competing for league, sectional, district and regional championships.
This season was a special one that saw Oak Harbor go 27-3, win 18 straight games at one point and claim Northern Buckeye Conference and regional championships.
The Rockets, who won 25 games by at least four runs, saw their season end last weekend in a Division III state semifinal as they lost to Baltimore Liberty Union, 6-1. (Liberty Union, which is located 30 miles southeast of Columbus, defeated Canfield South Range, 5-3, in the final to win the championship.)
The game was tied 1-1 in the fourth inning before the Lady Lions took back the lead, scoring five of its six runs with two out.
Getting to within one game of the state final had to feel like a world away from where Oak Harbor started in the tournament.
Despite beating Metamora Evergreen, 10-5, in a sectional final, the Lady Vikings jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Rockets rallied to win in convincing fashion. From there, Oak Harbor outscored its next four opponents by a combined 29-6 to win the regional title, defeating West Jefferson, 12-2, in five innings in the regional finals.
That was preceded by wins over Margaretta (4-0), Defiance Tinora (6-1), Liberty Center (7-3) and Evergreen.
The early deficit in the Evergreen game was similar to trailing, 4-0, in the opener against Central Catholic, which the Rockets rallied to win, 14-4.
“We started our season down 4-0 in the Central Catholic game, and we turned it around against Evergreen,” said Oak Harbor coach Cami Haas. “I told them that in our game against Liberty Union.”
Haas also talked about the win over Tinora in the district final, which defeated the Rockets last year in a district semifinal after rallying from a 5-0 deficit in the fifth inning to win, 9-8, in eight innings.
“Not to take away anything from Tinora, but we just beat ourselves (last year). The game is so mental. It’s about mentally showing up, especially in the playoff games,” said Haas. “We didn’t do that last year.”
All having played a key role in the regional title from two years ago, the senior trio of Alyse Sorg, Porter Gregory and Reese Adkins — all of whom were four-year starters — led the way for the Rockets, doing a little bit of everything, whether it was at the plate, in the circle or on the infield.
(Catcher Allie Giezie was a starter on that team, as was Hannah Schimmoeller, who played second base, but missed this season because of an injury.)
“I feel like I’ve been with these girls for what feels like an eternity,” Haas said of her seniors. “They did a fantastic job of keeping (and maintaining) the culture of excellence. They played in the Final Four as sophomores and led our younger players this time.”
Sorg, the pitcher, was the leadoff hitter, followed by Adkins, the shortstop; Gregory, the first baseman; rightfielder Ava Geyer; second baseman Karder Haas; centerfielder Tatum Baumgartner; Giezie; leftfielder Morgan LaLonde and third baseman Myley Sandwisch. (Kaitlyn Meloche spent some time as the designated player this year, hitting for Sandwisch, who took off at the plate during the latter part of the season.)
Sorg, who played right field as a freshman and center field as a sophomore because taking over in the circle from Reagan Schultz as a junior, went 25-3 with a 2.27 ERA. She struck out 152 batters and walked 52. At the plate, Sorg hit .370 to go with eight doubles, five triples and 29 RBIs. She leaves as the record holder in walks in a season, runs in a season and career triples. (Sorg plans to swim in college at Bowling Green State University.)
Adkins, who worked like a vacuum cleaner at short, hit .455 to go with 11 doubles and 39 RBIs, which is tied for a school record that she set as a junior. She hit six career home runs. As a freshman, Adkins played shortstop but did not hit, though that changed when she became a sophomore. She will continue her softball career at Lorain Community College.
Gregory was named the NBC Offensive Player of the Year for her efforts, hitting .518 to go with 13 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 38 RBIs. She leaves with five school records — hits in a season (57); career batting average (.449); career hits (179); career RBIs (126); and career runs (141). Gregory was a first-team selection in Division III and will continue her career at Walsh University, a Div. II college in North Canton.
Sorg talked about the team’s mindset heading into the state tournament.
“It was really fun to do it again. We always talked about how fun it would be to go back to state and to bring the younger ones with us,” she said. “As a team, we were focused the most on our district final game and then after that, we realized that we could actually make it back to state.
Sorg will take some great memories with her from the trips to Florida to playing in front of large crowds in the Final Four.
“My sophomore year, we played in the state semifinal and school was canceled and most of the town was there to support us. That was everyone’s first time experiencing such a supportive community (traveling two hours),” she said. “And of course, this year’s state semifinal. We all wanted to win and knew we could win. It just sucks that we struggled to put the ball in play.”
Sorg had high praise for the coaching staff, which includes Haas, Tashia Trimble, Remi Gregory, a former star player, and Sorg’s parents, Jeff and Andrea. (Like Andrea, Alyse competed for the swim team and the softball team, and also ran cross country.)
Alyse Sorg had high praise for all of them, especially Haas, who just completed her second season coaching the team.
“Cami came in and did a fantastic job starting off. She knew most of us because she had coached us on other teams (when we were younger). I think the reason we had so much success is because she believed in us. She knew what we were capable of and made us believe it,” said Sorg. “She also knew how to keep us on track and not lose sight of the end goal.”


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