VFW had big ‘B’ Division softball title run

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 13 July 2020 at 9:54 am

Contributed Photos – Members of VFW’s 1981 Medina Women’s Softball League ‘B’ Division playoff championship team included, in front, Gail Murphy, Karen Jones, Elaine Pittard, Captain LuAnn Howe, Bev Ettinger, Brenda Gardner and Lorrie Szatkowski. Standing are Gail Grabowski, Paul Mauragis, Karen Pavloch, Karen Higgs, Brad Nudd, Connie Flynn, Mary Weld and Jim Szatkowski.

VFW was a perfect six for six in capturing the Women Women’s Softball League ‘B’ Division playoff stretch during a memorable stretch from 1981 to 1991.

During that run VFW claimed the ‘B’ Division playoff crown in three two year bursts winning in 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1990 and 1991.

In between those title years VFW competed in the ‘A’ Division in 1983 and from 1986 to 1989.

VFW started that title run in dramatic fashion in 1981. After finishing in a tie for fifth place during the regular season at 8-8, VFW upset regular season champion Sacred Heart in two straight games by close contests to claim the crown.

Battling out of the losers bracket VFW nipped Sacred Heart 6-5 in the opening game of the title series. Trailing 2-1 VFW took the lead for good by scoring three times in the third inning highlighted by a two-run single by Elaine Pittard. Singles by Pittard and Bev Ettinger and an error later scored what proved to be the game winner in the fifth inning.

VFW then put a lock on the title by besting Sacred Heart 10-8 in the second and decisive game.  Three runs in the seventh inning on a single by Pittard and three errors locked up the win and the title.

VFW then made a successful title defense by outlasting Thomas Tire 13-12 in eight innings in the 1982 playoff final. Leading by as much as 12-5 at one point, VFW had to score a run in the eighth inning on a single by Ettinger and an RBI sacrifice fly by Brenda Gardner to retain the title.

VFW made a strong return to the ‘B’ Division in 1984 capturing both the regular season and playoff titles. VFW nipped defending champion Thomas Tire 10-9 in the playoff finals.

Leading 9-8, VFW scored the game winner in the seventh on a double by Pittard and singles by Ettinger and Sherrie Albee. Albee, Lorrie Szatkowski, Crystal Luxon and Gail Jones all had home runs in the game.

VFW repeated as both regular season and playoff champions in 1985 but this time needed two games to retain the playoff crown. Bernzomatic defeated VFW 7-3 in the first game of the title round. However, VFW rebounded to down Bernzomatic 18-11 in the second comest to lockup the championship.

Leading 10-8, VFW put a lock on the title by scoring four times in both the fifth and sixth innings. Albee had a two-run homer in the sixth. Mary Weld finished with four hits, Albee three and Pittard, Szatkowski and Pat Eckard two each.

Then after four seasons in the ‘A’ Division, VFW again made a strong return to the ‘B’ Division capturing both the regular season and playoff titles in 1990.

In the playoffs,  VFW rebounded from a 14-8 loss to White Birch in the first game of the finals to post an 18-3 victory in the second and deciding title round contest. A three-run homer by Elaine McPherson upped VFWs lead to 7-0 in the fourth inning. A four tun fifth inning on hits by Bri Gillette, Ettinger, Dottie Barr and Debbie Caleb then upped the advantage to 11-3 and put a lock on the win.

VFW then successfully defended its playoff title in 1991 as a split with F&H in the finals proved to be enough to retain the crown.

Rebounding from a narrow 8-7 eight inning loss to F&H in the opening game of the tile round, VFW posted a 6-2 victory in the second contest to retain the championship. Leading 1-0, VFW pulled away in the clincher by scoring five times in the fourth inning as Szatkowski, Barr and McPherson all had key RBI singles. Hits by Cathy Fox and Gail Jones ignited the uprising which also included a hit by winning pitcher Bri Gillette.

VFW’s 1991 ‘B’ Division playoff championship team included, in front, Debbie Caleb, Terri Strassel, Elaine McPherson, Bri Gillette, Bev Ettinger, Juanita Gardner and Lorrie Szarkowski. Standing are Bob Jones, LuAnn Howe, Gail Jones, Michelle Stanton, Chris Draper, Nikki Gillette, Cathy Fox and Dottie Barr with Sarah Barr.