Knill hits big homer as Poland advances

POLAND -- Sarah Knill picked the perfect time to hit the first home run of the season for the Poland High softball team.
After five innings, the top-seeded Bulldogs (16-7) held a 2-1 lead over Metro Athletic Conference rival Howland in a Division II sectional tournament game.
Knill's two-run homer, which traveled well over the 191-foot fence in left field, sparked a three-run sixth and the Bulldogs went on to a 9-1 win.
Poland will play Struthers in a district semifinal next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Knill's homer was estimated in the 215-foot range and gave the Bulldogs a 5-1 lead.
"Sarah rang that one out of here and then we just relaxed," Poland coach Reid Lamport said. "We have a lot of extra base hits but we have no home runs. That's our first one and it couldn't have came at a better time."
Pitched also: Knill (14-4) also pitched a complete game, handcuffing Howland (13-9) on a two-hitter with eight strikeouts.
"We expect to see that from Sarah, that's her game," Lamport said.
"She hasn't given up a lot of hits all year. She'll be the first to tell you, she wasn't at the top of her game but she moved the ball around well enough and we played good enough defense."
Knill struck out the side in the first inning to set the tone. She allowed just one base runner out of the final 13 Howland hitters.
"Actually I was really not at my best at all," Knill said. "It was the defense that gave us the win. They backed me up. I was not on my best game and they were having their best game so it worked out well."
Poland first baseman Heidi Kimmel, who played the game with special inspiration, had three hits, including a single to start the sixth inning.
"God bless her," Lamport said of Kimmel. "She was at her grandfather's funeral today.
"She came in focused because she knew that's exactly what he would want her to do. She was where the family and her grandfather wanted her to be. She probably gave that tribute to him."
A Howland error, with two outs in the sixth, scored Kimmel and with a runner at second, brought Knill to the plate. Knill's homer made it 5-1.
"I didn't see it," Knill said of the homer. "I saw our first base coach go nuts. I thought 'Wow, I wonder why'. I looked over and [it was gone]."
Broke it open: In the seventh inning the Bulldogs bundled four hits, a walk and an error into four more runs.
That rally was highlighted by a two-run double by Kimmel, giving her three hits and three runs scored on the day.
Suzanne Olesko doubled home the first Poland run in the first inning but Howland tied it at 1-1 in the second when Shauna Mintern singled home Kristina Ferenac, who walked.