CENTERVILLE – Successful teams are noticed for having talent, athleticism, strength, speed – all of the physical attributes that are seen in competition.
But the one attribute that goes unnoticed more often than not is what makes a team great – TEAM CHEMISTRY.
Team chemistry is the strength of the Miami East Vikings which is evident by the way Brian Kadel’s team has stuck together through adverse times to advance to the state final four with a convincing 10-0 victory in five innings over Fredericktown in the Division III regional final on Saturday at Centerville High School.
To gain perspective of how close this Viking team is, one can look back at several circumstances throughout the 2022 season.
Back in mid-April, Miami East suffered its first and only league loss to rival Covington by the score of 7-3 on its home field. Three weeks later the Lady Vikings steamrolled Covington, winning by run rule 12-1 to stake their claim to a shared TRC title.
Also, Miami East lost to Arcanum 7-1 on May 4th – the same team Fredericktown defeated 5-3 in the regional semifinal on the same night the Lady Vikings overcame six errors to defeat a powerful Carlisle team to advance to the Elite 8.
One would think Fredericktown would have the mental edge due to the results against common opponents, but the Lady Vikings are extremely close as a team to where they play hard for each other and are so darned mentally tough that circumstances have no affect on their mental approach.
This was proven once again with the stakes at a level no player on Miami East has experienced before – a trip to state – as Miami East took it to Fredericktown from the outset with senior Kyleigh Kirby cranking a solo home run in the first inning.
Kirby, by the way, has had an amazing season to this point with 13 home runs, including a walk-off homer in the sectional final against Waynesville.
The Lady Vikings used the momentum provided by Kirby to break the game open in the second inning with five more runs to take a 6-0 lead.
In the inning, Maddie Maxson reached on an error and Abigail Kadel followed by drawing a walk. After a fielder’s choice, Meg Gilland loaded the bases with a perfectly executed bunt.
With two outs, Kalli Teeters drilled a single to score two runs and then Jacqueline Kadel connected on a drive to center field to make the score 5-0.
Do-everything Kyleigh Kirby then connected on an RBI single to put the advantage to 6-0.
The Lady Vikings followed a huge second inning with a four-run third inning as Fredrickstown walked both Meg Gilland and Kalli Teeters with the bases loaded and then Jacqueline Kadel singled to score two more runs and push the Lady Vikings’ advantage to 10-0.
It was all of the runs Miami East would need as Kyleigh Kirby was extremely impressive in the circle and the defense was stellar behind her. In all, Kirby struck out two batters and walked one, while the defense behind her didn’t commit a single error.
This led to a two-hitter for Kirby in leading the Lady Vikings to the state final four.
Miami East will play Massillon Tuslaw at 3:00 on Friday at Firestone Stadium in Akron.