Bradford softball team puts itself in history books with D-IV state championship

AKRON — Seniors Samantha “Buzz” Brewer, Emma Canan, Maggie Manuel, Skipp Miller, Courtney Monnin.

Juniors Alexis Barhorst, Nylani Beireis, Zoe Brewer, Rylee Canan, Abby Fike.

Sophomores Sarah Beckstedt, Bella Brewer, Remi Harleman, Isabella “Izzy” Hamilton, Shayleigh “Shay” Swick.

Freshman Alani Cani, Tegan Canan, Izabella “Izzy” Painter.

Remember their names.

They are the 19 girls that will be forever known as the members of Bradford’s first state champion softball team, along with coach Shon Schaffer and assistant coaches Eric Hart and Greg Gordon.

The Railroaders finished off a 30-2 season by defeating Cuyahoga Heights 8-0 in the D-IV title game Sunday at Firestone Stadium.

Checking All The Boxes

There is a reason Schaffer refers to this team as the most talented team he ever coached.

The Railroaders simply check all the boxes.

Outstanding Battery

It would be hard to top the sister combination of Skipp Miller and Austy Miller.

Skipp pitched all 32 games — hurling one perfect game, 12 no hitters, 10 one-hitters, finishing with more than 400 strikeouts and having the “perfect” perfect game by striking out all 15 batters she faced in one game.

She allowed just one run — unearned at that — in the postseason and 11 all season.

Behind the plate, Austy was the perfect leadoff batter — with power to go deep at anytime and speed that is lethal, going first to third in the bat of an eye.

Behind the plate, she neutralized the other team’s speed.

In the 1-0 regional final win over Mechanicsburg, she threw a girl out stealing twice who had 55 steals on the season — one to end the first inning and one to end the game in a 1-0 victory.

Box Checked.

Hitting

You have to nit-pick with a team this good to find flaws — and you would occasionally hear opposing fans say Bradford doesn’t hit the ball well enough.

Well, how about outscoring your opponents 19-0 in the state tournament and the boxscore for the state championship game says it all, 10 hits from nine different batters.

Box Checked.

Defense

When your pitcher is in double digits in strikeouts nearly every game, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to play defense.

“It can be tough,” Bradford third baseman Maggie Manuel said. “Abby (shortstop Abby Fike) and I talk about that all the time.”

And Schaffer understood that as well.

“She will tell you, I push Maggie (Manuel) really hard every day in practice,” Schaffer said.

Well how is this for defense — in the championship game alone, Manuel, Fike and second baseman Emma Canan had two assists each as Nylani Beireis recorded nine putouts at first base — and Manual also had tw0 catches, including a running catch of a bunt in foul territory.

While the outfield (Buzz Brewer, Rylee Canan, Izzy Hamilton) didn’t get any chances Sunday, they made plays all season.

“To be honest with you, my defense has been great all season,” Skipp Miller said.

Box Checked.

Run and Score

Courtesy runner Alexis Barhorst and pinch runner Shay Swick did Sunday what they have done all season when called upon.

Both scored runs in the win.

Box Checked

Doing it in Pinch

Junior Zoe Brewer was called on as a pinch-hitter Sunday in the sixth inning.

All she did wad drill a double, setting off a wild celebration.

“That was just so cool,” Schaffer said.

Box Checked.

Who’s That?

When the PA announcer introduced Bradford’s left fielder, some fans may have been confused when he said Samantha Brewer — rarely is “Buzz” introduced by her given name.

All Talk

If the Cuyahoga student section was trying to bother Skipp Miller by yelling her her name from behind the dugout, it was a massive fail.

“I told Skipp (Miller) don’t pay any attemtion to them,” Austy Miller said. “She said, “they are yelling our names” and I said yes.”

Two more firsts

It is hard to imagine, Skipp Miller could have two more firsts with all her accomplishments, but she did.

Her bunt to score Austy Miller with the first run was her first bunt of the year — and her slide into second base in the sixth inning — while scaring coach Schaffer — was her first slide of the season.

Worth the Wait

The five seniors had played in the state semifinals as freshman losing 1-0 in eight innings.

Skipp Miller then missed her sophomore season with a knee injury and their junior seasons were postponed by Covid.

But, the championship Sunday was worth the wait.

“To go out with a bang like this,” Skipp Miller said with a big smile in the interview room. “Definitely, it was worth it.”

For all 19 girls and the coaching staff as they go down in history.

Remember their names.