East Canton silences Blue Devils’ bats

Lisbon’s Justyce Vrable scores the Blue Devils’ only run after an Autumn Oehlstrom double Wednesday. Also shown is East Canton catcher Kaley Steigerwald. (Morning journal/Michael Burich)

NORTH JACKSON — Lisbon’s softball team produced at a rate no other area team did this season, but on Wednesday in the Div. III district semifinal the Blue Devils were cooled off by a defending district champion at Jackson-Milton Elementary.

East Canton scored five in the first and held off multiple attempts at a Lisbon rally as the Hornets secured a 7-1 victory to end the Blue Devils’ season for the second consecutive season.

It was the lowest run total for the Blue Devils during their record-breaking offensive season and a lot of that was because of East Canton pitcher Marisa Hall, who retired the first Devil batter of every inning and first two Devil batters in five of the innings.

“Let’s face it, if we don’t spot them those five runs in the first, we still lose 2-1,” Lisbon coach Dave Crismon said. “We didn’t do enough at the plate and we’ve been an offensive machine all year. I knew coming in (Hall) was going to be the best pitcher we’ve faced.”

Lisbon ends its season at 20-3, while the 16-5 Hornets advance to meet McDonald in the Division IV championship set for 5 p.m. today. McDonald rallied to beat East Palestine 3-2 in the other district semifinal on Wednesday.

“Lisbon was as tough as anyone we played this year,” East Canton coach Jason Hall said. “They have a line-up that’s just so hard to get out. You can see they only struck out a few times. They put the ball in play and they’re just aggressive.”

East Canton had five hits in the opening inning off Lisbon starter Emma Thompson and all nine Hornets came to the plate in that frame. Thompson was replaced by Mya Emmerling after walking the lead-off hitter in the third. The Devils settled down after that giving up one run each to the Hornets in the fourth and seventh innings.

Lisbon’s lone run came off a two-out, RBI double by senior Autumn Oehlstrom in third inning which scored Justyce Vrable. The Devils stranded five total runners in the second and third innings.

While Oehlstrom did have two doubles at the plate in her final game as a Blue Devil, she left everyone talking about a stunning defensive play instead.

Oehlstrom caught Cassandra Wolfe’s one-out blast to deep center in the fourth and then threw out a tagging Lexi Betz at the plate to end the inning. The display of Oehlstrom’s rocket arm drew a gasp from those in the crowd.

“That’s a next level throw and she’s a next-level player,” Crismon said. “We can’t replace a player like that. It’s been such a thrill to coach her.”

“I’ve been very aware of her for the past few years and I knew she had to make a perfect throw (in that situation),” Hall said. “When you’re back by the fence like that I’m going to take that chance because if she doesn’t make that perfect throw we score. She made the play and that’s what good athletes do. She’s going to be All-Ohio. She’s that good of a player.”

Game notes

* Lisbon ends the season with two straight losses. The Blue Devils lost to Bristol on May 10 in a game that matched up two No. 1 tournament seeds. Crismon didn’t think that was any leftover disappointment from that loss.

“We’re young and we’re talented but this was a big moment for some freshmen and some sophomores. We knew they were a regional team last year and were one run away from playing in the regional final last year. We’ve been confident in the way our offense has played all season and we’ve had people step up all season, but when it starts to mean a little more in tournament play there’s that extra pressure and it’s something athletes need to learn.”

* Crismon said Oehlstrom hasn’t made up her mind where she will play in college but he said she is being aggressively pursued by Eastern Kentucky University. Kenedy Vrable is slated to play softball for Youngstown State next season.

* Justyce Vrable had a double, while Thompson had two singles to aid the Devil offense.

LI: 0-0-1-0-0-0-0–1- 6-2

EC: 5-0-0-1-0-0-1–7-13-1

EC–Marisa Hall, wp (4K, 3BB) and Kaley Steigerwald

LI–Emma Thompson, lp (2IP, 1K, 1BB), Mya Emmerling (5IP, 6K, 0BB) and Kaity Clark.

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