CLYDE - Upper Sandusky came into Saturday's Division III district final at Clyde with the nerves that would be expected from a team playing in its first final since 2002.
Milan Edison came into the game with the confidence expected from a team coming off a state semifinal appearance a year ago, and playing in its sixth-straight final.
The Chargers clearly had the experience edge, but no amount of experience could counteract the way Edison was swinging the bats. Edison pounded out 14 hits, including two home runs, in an 11-0 five-inning victory over the Rams.
It was Edison's third title in the last four years, and the fourth-straight year the Chargers ended Upper Sandusky's tournament run.
Even though his team was familiar with playing against Edison, playing in a district final was a whole new experience, which Upper Sandusky coach David Young admitted caused a bit of nerves.
"There was a ton of nerves going on. I was even nervous in here for them," he said. "They all did an excellent job. There were all kind of nerves out there. They were all talking out there, 'Oh my stomach's churning.'"
It appeared early as if Upper Sandusky might survive its nervousness in the first inning when freshman pitcher Kyla Cusac retired Edison's first two batters. But Chelsea Imus blooped a single to short left field bringing up clean-up hitter KayLee Fox.
Fox had the wind at her back, but she didn't need it. She launched a home run over the centerfield fence, landing in the top row of the bleachers that overlooked the field.
For Edison coach Dale Dawson, it was nothing out of the ordinary to see Fox step up.
"KayLee's done it all year for us," he said. "KayLee, she's in that four-hole for a reason. That's the spot, you get someone on base the first inning, especially when you start getting along in the tournaments where teams don't know her, and maybe make a mistake over the plate and she's got that potential to hit it out. She's done it all year for us and a lot in the first inning to really give us momentum, give us a lead. We get that lead, everyone else relaxes, the pitcher relaxes. It was a big hit."
Edison struck again with two outs in the second. Hannah Oeder led off the inning with a base hit, then moved around to third on consecutive groundouts. Leadoff hitter Emily Weyer dropped a bunt and beat the throw to first allowing Oeder to score. Karyn Schmidt and Imus followed up with back-to-back doubles that stretched the lead to 5-0.
"Everybody, whether they were getting a hit or just laying down a bunt, I think we executed everything 1-9 really well today," Dawson said. "We were pretty happy as a coaching staff. We worked pretty hard, to see it all come together was pretty exciting. Credit to the girls hard work."
While Edison was pounding the ball all over the yard, Upper Sandusky was struggling to find the holes in the Charger defense.
The Rams managed three hits on the afternoon, two coming off the bat of Maranda Stansberry, the other from Brigitte Snow.
"We hit the ball," Young said. "I'm not ashamed of anything we did. We put the ball in play, they just made some nice plays. They went and got everything we hit, and they just played good defense against us."
Cusac and fellow freshman Mackenzie Kessler split the pitching duties. Even though neither could cool off the hot Edison bats, Young was pleased with their performance.
"With our freshmen pitching, they tried and they both did an excellent job for us," Young said. "You can't ask for more out of the two pitchers we threw today. They just come out firing on all cylinders and they hit the ball very hard. Couple of their big girls just got giant hits for them and it helped them out a lot. They're a very good team."
Upper Sandusky loses three seniors - Snow, Savannah Piecha and Lexa Cheney - that Young praised for the leadership helping the team to its district runner-up finish. With the youth on the team, he said he's looking forward to what the future holds.
"Our seniors played a big role in our leadership and season this year," he said. "They kept the girls together the best they could because we are very young. I mean we only got a couple juniors, sophomores and most of us that were here today were freshmen. We got five freshman here today. So we're young, we'll come around and I think we'll be a lot better next year."