Tallmadge softball team advances to World Series

Published:

By Frank Aceto | Record Publishing Co.

It could cost around $80,000 when it's all said and done.

And a number of parents and coaches have to figure out a Plan B or maybe even a Plan C when it comes to their work schedules.

Nevertheless, what a group of softball players and parents are about to experience isn't exactly something that happens every day.

"It is a strain," Tallmadge Little League 12-year-old softball All-Star head coach Nick Dadich said. "But it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

The Tallmadge softball team is set to play in the Little League World Series for the first time since 2000, departing for Portland, Oregon on Tuesday. The team's World Series game is Aug. 7 at 10 a.m.

Win or lose, Tallmadge is set to play the Czech Republic Aug. 8 at 12:30 p.m. and Columbus, Ga., Aug. 10 at 5 p.m.

Tallmadge also is scheduled to conclude pool play against a team from Latin America Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. All games are set to take place at Alpenrose Stadium.

The World Series semifinals are scheduled to take place Aug. 12 and the championship game is set for Aug. 13.

"If we're one of the top two seeds in pool play, we'll be on TV," Dadich said. "The (Aug. 8) game will be streaming on ESPN3 and we plan to have it at Delanie's."

Dadich is the owner of Delanie's Neighborhood Grill in Tallmadge (67 West Avenue) and his wife plans to run the business while he is away.

The softball team has gotten plenty of support during its incredible journey.

"Mayor (David) Kline has helped us in orchestrating a celebration on the circle at states and regionals and he also has been rallying for our fundraiser," Dadich said.

So how did Tallmadge get this far?

It won the state tournament, then captured the Central Region Tournament, which concluded July 24 in Indianapolis.

Tallmadge punched its ticket to Portland after earning a 4-1 victory over a team from Iowa in the championship game.

Left-hander Hallie Mullett, who is 6-0 in tournament play, got the win in the circle. She held Iowa hitless for the first four innings before giving up a single with one out in the fifth. That base-runner didn't last long. Two pitches later, Tallmadge turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

"(Tallmadge High School head baseball coach) Kenny Linn worked with us on turning double plays," Dadich said. "How often do you see a 6-4-3 double play in softball? These girls are good enough to pull it off."

Dadich said Mullett has been the team's defensive Most Valuable Player. He said shortstop Lauren Tecca has been the team's offensive MVP.

"Hallie has been lights out," Dadich said. "She has only given up three earned runs in six games. Lauren has been one of our hottest hitters."

Tallmadge advanced to the Central Region title game after posting a 10-0 victory over a team from Missouri in the semifinals. It also earned an 8-3 win over a team from Indiana.

Tallmadge's other regional wins took place against Indiana (10-0) and Michigan (5-4).

Not everything went smoothly for Tallmadge.

It dropped its only game of the tournament to Nebraska.

By the way, it wasn't close -- Nebraska cruised to an 8-0 win.

Thankfully, the team righted the ship and won its next three games to reach the World Series.

"For some reason, we sleptwalked that whole game (against Nebraska)," Dadich said. "It was a wake-up call. After that game, I could tell my whole team was back.

"They got a good night's sleep and we had a team breakfast. They were goofing off as if nothing ever happened. They were more relaxed than I was."

Tallmadge's other pitcher is right-hander Emily Pratt.

"Our pitching is a two-headed monster," Dadich said. "Emily throws hard from the right side and Hallie tears hitters up from the left side."

Dadich's daughter, Delanie, is the team's starting first baseman and Kenna Loveless is the starting second baseman.

The starting third baseman is Lizzie Bickar, who has been a stalwart defensively throughout the season.

"Lizzie has made one error the whole year," Dadich said. "She is one of the best third basemen in the state."

The catcher is Jordyn Severns, the team's leadoff hitter and "spark plug," according to Dadich. The starting outfielders are Autumn Malincoat (left), Gia Spitali (center) and Katie Hussing (right).

"Katie also has been one of our hottest hitters," Dadich said.

The rest of the team comprises backup catcher Paige Leitner, Melina Cioffi, who Dadich calls his "speed specialist," and outfielder Lexi Paulo-Roberts, who reached base four times in six at bats during regional play.

"We were down 1-0 in the state championship game against Ironton with two outs in the fifth when Paige laced the first pitch to the right-center field wall for a two-run double," Dadich said. "That was the biggest hit of the game.

"Melina was one of the coach's selections and I chose her just for her speed. Lexi had a great regional series."

At one point or another, it seemed like every member of the team excelled in a crucial moment.

"It seems like we have a new hero every day," Dadich said. "Our bench play has been the single biggest contributor."

Dadich, a former assistant coach with the Tallmadge High School baseball team, has coached softball for the last three years.

The Tallmadge 12-year-old softball All Stars lost to Elyria in the 2013 state tournament. Elyria eventually advanced to the World Series.

"Elyria was the best Little League team I've ever seen," Dadich said. "What stinks is we had some great kids that we lost from last year's team."

The 2014 season has certainly been one for the ages for the Tallmadge Little League 12-year-old All Stars.

"Being a part of the girls' team reaching their dream is unexplainable," Dadich said. "The real satisfaction of this team is the fact that the kids have been able to achieve something most kids never come close to doing."

The team is scheduled to meet to do a live broadcast with Tom Linder on WARF-AM -- Akron's Fox Sports 1350 Aug. 4 at Delanie's. The broadcast is set for 3 to 6 p.m.

Linder also is expected to cook ribs from 5 to 10 p.m.

The cost is $15 for a half rack and $20 for a full rack. The proceeds go to Tallmadge Little League. Donations can be made and a 50/50 raffle is expected to be featured.

For details on the 2014 Little League Softball World Series, visit www.softballworldseries.com.

For information on the Tallmadge Little League 12-year-old softball All Stars, go to GameChanger and follow "Tallmadge LL Devils."

Tallmadge Little League also has a facebook page.

Email: faceto@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9444

Facebook: FrankAcetoRecordPublishingCoSports

Twitter: FrankAceto_RPC

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.