One of the best birthday presents that Boardman High school softball coach Fred Mootz received on Wednesday was continued strong pitching by freshman Madison Lester.
In a Division I sectional final, Lester scattered six hits in shutting out All-American Conference Red Tier rival Canfield, 6-0.
“She’s been the difference for us the past two weeks,” Mootz said. “She has the poise of an 18-year-old ... doesn’t get rattled.
“She just doesn’t get fazed.”
Twice, the Cardinals threatened to score. Both times, Lester escaped with a strikeout.
The first instance came in the second inning when the game was scoreless. After Bridget Kelly doubled with two outs, Lauren Fitzeerald advanced her to third base with a base hit. Lester struck Liz Ferraro to end the inning.
Then in the fifth inning with two outs and Boardman ahead 2-0, Mary Gomez was on first base when Lester faced Cardinals slugger Kalin Kovach. When the count reach 3-0, Mootz visited the mound.
“He told me that it was OK to walk her, that she’s [hit] a lot of home runs],” Lester said. “I did not want to walk her.”
Mootz said he told Lester “don’t give in, [Kovach] could tie the game. She’s the most dangerous girl in their lineup. She hit one here on us last year into the tennis court so we know what she’s capable of doing.”
Lester’s next three pitches were strikes, the last one swinging.
The All-American Conference is an OHSAA-sanctioned league, created in 2008 as the result of the merger between the Trumbull Athletic Conference and the Metro Athletic Conference in Ohio. The league has 21 different member schools, with 17 sports offered throughout fall, winter and spring sports seasons.