WEST POINT - For the past five years, the Beaver Local softball team has been a part of the All-American Conference. Despite taking a 25-0 loss to the Poland Bulldogs on Thursday afternoon, Beaver Local coach Mark Cashdollar would like to see teams of Poland's caliber remain on the schedule.
"I sure like playing them every year," Cashdollar said. "We can play with some teams and we're going to try and play with every team, I just wish we had played better in the field."
The Beavers (3-9, 1-6) comitted seven fielding errors on the afternoon, and gave up no less than five runs in each of the first four innings against the Bulldogs (10-2, 4-1).
"They always have a very good hitting team and you never really know if they have a good fielding team, because it's tough to hit the ball," Cashdollar said.
So tough that Beaver Local failed to record a hit, or even a baserunner against Poland hurler Kasie Serich. The senior pitcher was perfect through five innings against the Beavers.
"This is my first year for varsity pitching and I didn't think I could do something like that this soon but I was able to," Serich said. "My catcher told me in the dugout right before the last inning 'you're close to a perfect game' and I thought she might have jinxed it, but I held my ground."
Thirteen of the 15 Beaver Local batters Serich faced were set down on strikes.
"My screwball is really good, so that's what I was sticking with," Serich said. "Once they were backing off the plate, I would throw them outside."
Despite Poland losing standout pitcher Erin Gabriel from last year's squad, Cashdollar knew it would still be a difficult challenge facing the Bulldogs.
"We lost a lot of players from last year's team, so we knew coming in that it was going to be rough," Cashdollar said. "I don't think that was even their top pitcher."
Behind Serich, the Bulldogs are fortunate enough to have Aleah Hughes to take the mound. First baseman Taylor Miokovic is yet another option for Poland on the rubber, but Miokovic hasn't seen much action this season.
"It's a blessing, it really is," Poland coach Matt Campbell said. "When one might not be on, we can bring the other in and finish things off. It's great to have two and we have a couple more that just haven't had the opportunity to pitch."
Once their AAC schedule is complete, Cashdollar and the Beavers don't plan on scaling back their schedule as they move to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference.
"We can still play some quality teams that are a little bit closer," Cashdollar said. "We will try to be the best team in the county and go from there and win the OVAC. We've done that before. We've had some good teams."
The Beavers have hung tough with a pair of OVAC teams, taking an 8-2 loss to Wheeling Park to open the season and a 2-0 loss to Edison. Sprinkle in a few teams from the AAC and the road will not be any easier in the coming years.
"We're going to continue to play a couple teams up north. We'll play Struthers twice a year," Cashdollar said. "I don't go around trying to find easy games. We have Cardinal Mooney here for a double-header, we play Ursuline."
Beaver Local pitcher Courtney Messenger was struck by a line drive hit by Marissa Trevis in the first inning. After a brief conference on the mound, Messenger remained in the game for the Beavers.
"The pitching coach went and talked to her and she hung in there, I don't think anyone had to tell her to come out and that was good," Cashdollar said.
"It's only the second time in school history that we've had a perfect game, we're very happy for Kasie. She's a senior who has been waiting for her opportunity to pitch," Poland coach Matt Campbell said. "She didn't pitch last year and she's come out and done a great job this year as being the only senior pitcher we have. We're proud of her, she has worked very hard."
PO: 5-5-5-7-3 -25-28-0
BL: 0-0-0-0-0 -0-0-7
PO -Kasie Serich wp (5IP, 0H, 0R, 13K, 0BB) and Meredith Testa.
BL -Courtney Messenger lp (5IP, 1K 1BB) and Erica Withrow.