This weekend, Clay softball was playing for a spot in the Division I state final four in Akron.
The Clay softball and baseball teams already completed one difficult feat — they swept championships this spring in both diamond sports in the 12-team Toledo City League. Then, the softball team got the chance to go one step further.
"Overall, everybody is very confident right now," Coach Brenda Radabaugh said. "They are confident in each other. We're confident in the batter's box and I know everybody has confidence in our pitchers, and the defense has been solid. I would like to see no errors, but we've been able to minimize the damage with errors, so I can live with that."
The 23-5 Eagles had to get past Cinderella-story Sylvania Northview (10-16) and the winner of Brecksville-Broadville Heights (15-8) and Elyria (25-3) on Friday and Saturday in Clyde if they were to reach the state softball tournament next weekend.
Elyria qualified for the state tournament last year, finishing as runner-up. In last season’s D-I championship, a 10-inning contest, North Canton Hoover (32-2) won its fourth state title after beating Elyria (28-2), 1-0.
If the Clay Eagles were successful in reaching the state tourney, they will play the state semifinal Thursday, July 4 at 10 a.m. against the Columbus regional winner at the University of Akron’s Firestone Stadium. The Division I championship is Saturday, June 6 at 10 a.m.
Built in 1925, Firestone Stadium was renovated in 1999 and has a seating capacity of 2,500 fans in the main grandstands. Considered the premier venue for softball in the state of Ohio, Firestone Stadium is also the home park of the Akron Racers, who play in the National Pro Fastpitch league.
This season marks the 32nd state softball tournament, and Roxanne Price, the OHSAA assistant commissioner who oversees the sport, talked more about the stadium and what to expect from next week’s tournaments. She suggests anyone who loves to watch fast pitch softball should purchase an all-tournament pass.
“The fact that you get to watch four games each day is great. You also get to see the best athletes in the state in any sport, and you see how excited they are to play in a venue like Firestone Stadium,” Price said.
“It’s great for the athletes, the fans, the member schools and the OHSAA to have this coverage. We want our athletes recognized, with the caveat being not over-glamorized to the levels of college or professional sports. But this is a good and exciting opportunity.”
Fans can purchase an all-tournament pass for $35 at Firestone Stadium. This year, Division I (which would include Clay) plays first, followed by Divisions IV, III and II.