The Rockets are golden again.
The Tuscarawas County Rockets recently added another state championship and a variety of other medals to their ever-growing list of accomplishments.
On Sept. 15, 15 members of the Rockets traveled to the town of Oregon and competed in Special Olympics Ohio State Softball Tournament and Skills Competition.
The Skills Competition began first, and Chelsea Lefler secured a silver, followed by Samantha Mastroine (fourth) and Elizabeth Lippencott (fourth). Then, the team took the field against hometown favorite, Lucas County. The Rockets quickly jumped to a 5-0 lead before one of Lucas County’s players hit a 3-run homer, making the score 5-3. The Rockets built their lead back up, making the score 12-6 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Another 3-run homer with two outs closed the gap from 12-9. However, a deep catch by center fielder, Matthew Medley, stopped a possible rally for Lucas County and secured the win for the Rockets.
Between the games, Joey Fulton won a silver medal in the Skills Competition, and Shane York captured bronze.
At the conclusion of the Skills Competition, Tuscarawas County prepared to play in the championship game against Ashtabula. The Rockets dominated the entire game, winning by a score of 16-1 after four innings. Deric Johnson went the distance on the mound, striking out seven and walking just two. He also had a triple, three doubles, three singles, and four RBIs offensively. Steve Hazelip added two triples, two doubles, four singles, and six RBIs for the winners. Other members of the Rockets with various amounts of triples, doubles, singles, and RBIs were Alex Adkins, Kadyn Cook-Linamen, Conner DiGenova, Easton Dillon, Matthew Medley, Rachel Russell, Cody Thornton, and Logan Wise.
Unable to make the trip to state but contributing to the team throughout the season were Jehred Bennett, Max Burnham, and Jacob Jones. Coaches, assistants, and helpers for the Rockets throughout the season include Christy Bennett, Coney DiGenova, Brittany Dillon, Patrick Dillon, Joan Fulton, Angelica Mendoza, Ashley Metzcar, Scott Minor, and Andrew Phillips.
When asked about what it felt like to be a state champion in two sports, Alex Adkins shared that he felt pretty great. He added, "You can’t do anything without such great people involved in your life. I’m a proud Rocket...a Rocket for life."
Deric Johnson also stated, "It's been an up and down season, but we overcame everything. We showed everyone at State who the best softball team in Ohio was. Next year will be really tough, but we will be ready."
This is the first year that the Rockets have fielded a softball team, and everyone has been pleased with the success throughout the season. They won a state basketball championship in March. Many have now set their eyes on the flag football season and hope to battle to win a third championship.