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Hot Stove softball: Firelands-South Amherst continues winning ways, claims fifth straight state title and 49th straight game

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    Firelands-South Amherst shortstop Abby Alasken makes a catch against Buckeye in a Hot Stove Class D state final Sunday, July 14, 2019, at Wellington Community Park. Firelands-South Amherst won its fifth straight state title and 49th game in a row.

    ANDREW DOLPH / CHRONICLE

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    Firelands-South Amherst's Alaina Becker makes a play on a grounder against Buckeye in a Hot Stove Class D state final on Sunday, July 14, 2019, at Wellington Community Park.

    ANDREW DOLPH / CHRONICLE

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    Firelands-South Amherst starting pitcher Rachel Rinnie focuses before starting her wind-up against Buckeye on Sunday, July 14, 2019, at Wellington Community Park.

    ANDREW DOLPH / CHRONICLE

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WELLINGTON — Keystone and Elyria high schools aren’t the only softball powerhouses in Lorain County.

Firelands-South Amherst won its fifth straight Hot Stove Class D (ages 13-14) state title with a 10-4 win over Buckeye at Wellington Community Park.

Firelands-South Amherst (13-0) has won 49 consecutive games and has just two losses in the last five years.

After Buckeye (13-5) took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, Firelands responded with six in the top of the third to take control.

“These girls are amazing,” Firelands-South Amherst coach Will Leatherbery said. “When we were down 2-0 I told them that a little adversity shows a lot of what a team is made of. Look what happened. I can’t be any more proud of these girls. They just kept fighting and kept fighting.”

First baseman Alaina Becker and catcher Dani Roginsky had two-run doubles in the third to give Firelands a lead it would never relinquish. Roginsky went 3-for-4, with three RBIs and a stolen base, while also throwing out three runners trying to steal.

“I can’t say enough about Danielle Roginsky, she’s just been a brick wall for us back there,” Leatherbery said. “I really can’t say enough about her. Dani was an absolute monster today. … She went out there and stole the show. I couldn’t ask for a better catcher.”

Roginsky made critical defensive play after critical defensive play. She made a couple of difficult tags on plays at the plate and caught a twisting foul pop-up in the fifth inning.

“I’m very grateful to every person on this team,” Roginsky said. “We stuck together. We played good defense and had good offense. I’m just happy we gave it our all out here.

“Every pitch matters, every play matters. You can’t let your guard down for a second or someone is going to run all over you. You have to always be ready for whatever is going to happen.”

Firelands pitcher Rachel Rennie settled down after her team got her a lead. She allowed four runs, but all were unearned, while scattering seven hits in the complete-game victory.

“Rachel was tremendous for us,” Leatherbery said. “We knew, going into the season, that she would be the pitcher for us in this game if we made it this far because our other two are out playing travel ball right now. She had to be on top of her game today, and she did a great job.”

Firelands made five errors, but three came in the second when it allowed two runs. Other than that it was solid in the field.

“Knowing I have that kind of defense behind me makes things 10 times better,” Rennie said. “Once you get the lead, and when you have confidence because of that advantage, it makes things better as far as focusing because there is less stress.”

Rennie added three hits and scored a pair of runs to help her cause.

Buckeye cut the lead to 6-4 with a run in the bottom of the fifth, but Firelands responded with four in the top of the sixth to put the game away.

Paige Dufour led Buckeye with three hits and drove in a pair of runs.

“They played pretty well defensively, but I thought we played well defensively,” Buckeye coach Nils Johnson said. “In a game like this we made a couple of baserunning mistakes and (Firelands) got a couple of bloopers that fell in. That was the difference.”

Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or macsportstalk@gmail.com.

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