Strasburg wins third straight state softball championship

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Quick. Think of a sports dynasty? Nowadays, the team that comes to mind for most people would be the Patriots, or maybe the Chiefs. 

Not so fast, Brady and Belichick, Mahomes and Reid. How about Spidell and Reifenschneider? Sure, those names may notroll off the tongue so easily now but give it time and they will.

Strasburg-Franklin’s softball team may not be selling out 70,000-seat stadiums, but as a dynasty, they are brutally efficient and nowhere is that more evident than Saturday at Akron’s Firestone Stadium, where the Tigers wrapped up their third consecutive Division IV state title by dispatching Monroeville 10-0 in five innings.

Strasburg-Franklin did it with both power and pitching. Amelia Spidell was on the mound for the Tigers, which never bodes well for opponents considering she sports a sterling 21-1 record.

The senior surrendered only three hits – all singles – while scattering two bases on balls and striking out nine Eagles. Of Spidell’s 79 pitches, 56 were strikes.

Having tamed Monroeville’s bats, the Tigers didn’t need too much offense. And they received more than enough from first baseman Miley Reifenschneider who went 2-for-3 at the plate with five runs batted in.

After Spidell fanned two Eagles to get out of the first inning, she led off the bottom of the first and was promptly walked. Rylee Becker then reached base thanks to an error, advancing Spidell to second.

Spidell’s sister, Olivia, then smacked a single, scoring both runners for a 2-0 lead and no outs. But the Tigers (30-3) were just getting warmed up.

Monroeville pitcher Emily Scheid then walked Ella Gilkerson, bringing Reifenschneider to the plate with two on. The sophomore proceeded to hit a bomb to left centerfield, and just like that, the Tigers were up 5-0.

Strasburg-Franklin tacked on another run in the first, thanks to rightfielder Rayelle Watkins’ RBI triple.

In the second inning, the Tigers added to their lead thanks again to Reifenschneider, who slapped a single to right field, scoring two more runs and an 8-0 lead. Strasburg-Franklin’s last two runs came courtesy of Monroeville (24-7) pitching as Watkins and Amelia Spidell were both walked with the bases loaded for a 10-0 lead.

The Tigers have now won an OHSAA record 10 state titles in softball, and this is the school’s second time achieving the storied three-peat, another hallmark of any dynasty.