Bellaire stuns Sandy Valley

CAMBRIDGE — For only the fourth time in school history, Bellaire has advanced to the Division III Eastern 1 district softball tournament championship game. The Big Reds did so by stunning top-seeded Sandy Valley, 9-6, Tuesday night on the City Park diamond.

The victory propels the No. 8 seed into Thursday’s district finals opposite No. 4 Meadowbrook, which ousted No. 10 Ridgewood, 12-4. The game will played at Union Local at 5 p.m.

“This was a huge win,” Bellaire (12-10) head coach Melissa Lahna said. “We’ve had some big wins over the years, but tonight was really big.”

Lahna said she had the Cardinals (19-4) scouted very well.

“We were prepared. From the time we beat Union Local I was on the phone with several coaches trying to get some information on them,” she noted. “Buckeye Trail was very helpful, as was Strasburg and East Canton, who beat them twice. We knew what their strengths were and we knew what their weaknesses were.”

We jumped ahead 3-0 and then 4-0 and their coaches we’re looking at us like ‘where did they come from,“‘ Lahna continued. “We kind of stunned them right off the bat.”

Sandy Valley plated all six of its runs in the bottom of the third in chasing surprise Bellaire starter Natalie Stoner, who fanned two and walked four. She gave the ball to senior De’Asia Burney who shut the Cardinals down the remainder of the way. They combined on a five-hitter.

“We gave De’Asia the week off. She didn’t throw until Monday,” Lahna explained. “But, like a true senior, she came in and did the job.”

Stoner and Mia Gavarkavich each drove in three runs as Stoner singled twice and doubled. Gavarkavich had a trio of one-base knocks. Burney also singled thrice, while Kaylin Brown singled and doubled to produce a run. Tenley Hughes had two base raps and a ribbie. Tayah Frazier doubled in a run.

“Listen, we’re very young, but our record does not tell the story of who we are. These girls are hungry,” Lahna added.

The last time Bellaire played in the district final it lost 10-0 to Fort Frye in 2010. It has also lost in 2003 to Sandy Valley, 2-1, in 8 innings, and 1-0 to Philo back in 1995 when Lahna was a senior on the squad.