The Ohio High School Athletic Association held its first state softball tournament in 1978 in Ashland. Miami East, coached by University of Dayton graduate Pat Palcic, beat Mineral Ridge 7-6 in the Class A semifinals and Jeromesville Hillsdale 1-0 in the finals.
In the championship game, Kristy Brown tripled to lead off the second inning and scored on a two-out double by LuAnn Heitzman. Brenda Kirkland threw a six-hit shutout, and Miami East turned two double plays behind her.
Miami East won that championship on June 3, and that’s the same date Miami East will play this week as it returns to the state final four for the first time in 44 years. Coach Brian Kadel said his team is aware of the history.
“There are a couple girls who have relatives who were on that team,” Kadel said. “My wife, having graduated from Miami East, she knows multiple families that were on that team.”
Miami East (24-4) will play Massillon Tuslaw (20-5) in the Division III state semifinals at 3 p.m. Friday in a matchup of unranked teams at Firestone Stadium in Akron. No. 1 Wheelersburg (25-1) plays No. 2 Cardington-Lincoln (24-4) in the other semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The winners play in the state championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Miami East has won seven games in a row and beat Fredericktown 10-0 on Saturday at Centerville High School in the regional final.
Kyleigh Kirby leads the team with a .581 batting average, 12 home runs, 11 doubles, 50 RBIs and 46 runs scored. She hit a two-run walk-off home run to beat Waynesville 5-3 in the sectional final. She’s also the team’s ace on the mound. She’s 18-3 with a 3.31 ERA.
“She’s been throwing it well in the tournament and has been hitting it well,” Kadel said, “but in our tournament games so far, she has been intentionally walked seven times. We’ve had a lot of girls step up with big hits during games. Sometimes teams just think we’re one kid, and the other girls have proven them wrong.”
Kayly Fetters has six home runs and 35 RBIs. Kalli Teeters is hitting .394 with 30 RBIs and 44 runs. Madison Maxson is hitting .385 with 26 RBIs and 20 runs.
Kadel has two daughters on the team. Freshman Jacqueline Kadel is hitting .474 with 41 runs scored, and sophomore Abigail Kadel is hitting .349 with 20 RBIs and 25 runs scored.
Kadel’s in his 11th season as coach and comes from a softball family. He’s a Newton High School graduate, and his dad Kirk Kadel coached Newton from 1998-2015 and won a state softball championship in 2010. He had been helping his son coach Miami East but returned to coach Newton this season.
While one semifinal Friday matches three-time state semifinalist Cardington-Lincoln and 2016 state champion Wheelersburg, Miami East is making its first state appearance since the first tournament in 1978 and Tuslaw is in the final four for the first time.
“I think the team we’re going to play Friday is very similar to us,” Brian said. “They’ve got a good pitcher who’s their best hitter, but they also have several other girls in their lineup that can hit the ball.”
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