NDCL set itself apart this year
- It was a brutal season in that Mother Nature never really took her foot off our throats until the season was, for all intents and purposes, over. Most teams never got into a groove by playing consistently. Because of that, many teams never got to realize their full potential.
- Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin doesn't fall into that list, though. Well, they sort of do, but for a different reason. The Lions (23-3) got most, if not all, of their games in - though many were played after their Division II district semifinal loss to Poland.
- Where the Lions didn't get a chance to realize their full potential is the fault of postseason tournament placement. NDCL was again sent out to the Jefferson District, which meant the Lions again drove past the Painesville District to get to the one in Jefferson. Doesn't make any sense at all, especially considering the Lions USED to play in the Painesville District and are now part of the overloaded Jefferson tournament.
- NDCL lost three games this year and two of them - Poland and North Canton Hoover - went on to win the Division II and I state championships, respectively. If that doesn't constitute a great year, I'm not sure what does. With all due respect to all the teams in the Painesville District, if the Lions hadn't been needlessly and senselessly moved to Jefferson, they would have played Poland in a regional final - NOT a district semifinal. Keep in mind, the team who came out of the Painesville District - Lake Catholic - lost twice to NDCL by a combined score of 24-0.
- Coach Jack McParland's team is the best team I have ever covered, and that includes Conneaut, which I covered when it won the Division II state championship in 2000. It might be a while before I see another team like the Lions had this year. The team had a lockdown pitcher in Jill Hetki (22-3, 1.23 ERA, 171 strikeouts, 80 hits all year), a punishing offense (team average of .448 with 248 runs scored in 26 games) and the best defense I have seen, both in the infield and outfield.
- The top five batters in NDCL's lineup (Dani Ramos, Alex Cribari, Erin Ruff, Rachael Ratcliffe and Jenny Raguz) combined to hit .559 with 184 runs, 181 RBI and 101 extra-base hits. Against a schedule that included Poland, Hoover, Massillon Perry, South, Lake Catholic and others, those numbers are an absolute freak show.
- The scary part for the rest of the area is this: NDCL's cupboard is not bare. Hetki, Ruff and Raguz all return next year. It should be another amazing year for the Lions - with another inevitable meeting with junior-laden Poland in the district tournament.
- John Kampf