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5 Greater Canton high school softball teams that could make a run in the OHSAA tournament

The Ohio High School Athletic Association softball tournament arrives this week and each area team will look to make its mark in the postseason with the start of sectional play.

The competition in Greater Canton is as fierce as ever and there are plenty of teams that can score in the OHSAA tournament. Here’s a look at five teams that may have the best chance of reaching a regional tournament this season. Be careful though. The road is not easy for any of these teams.

North Canton Hoover Vikings

Hoover is one of the most versatile and proven teams in the region. The Vikings have two pitchers in Summer McCaw and Ella Letosky who could start for many of the teams in the area. It’s impossible to put a price on that kind of pitching depth in the postseason. Hoover also has plenty of players who can swing the bat well, led by Sadie Carroll. Delaney Shannon, Sienna Koosh, McCaw and Josie Westfall. The road to the regional tournament will be tough for Hoover as part of Division I, Northeast District 1. The No. 4 seed Vikings will face the winner of No. 5 Eastlake North and No. 7 Mentor in a possible district semifinal. No. No. 3 Louisville, No. 8 Riverside and No. 9 Perry lurk in the other half of the district.

Hoover's Josie Westfall looks for the ball as he slides over home plate in Perry at Hoover softball.  Tuesday April 16, 2024.Hoover's Josie Westfall looks for the ball as he slides over home plate in Perry at Hoover softball.  Tuesday April 16, 2024.

Hoover’s Josie Westfall looks for the ball as he slides over home plate in Perry at Hoover softball. Tuesday April 16, 2024.

Louisville's Kenzi Denzer singles in the first inning against Jackson at Jackson Friday, April 29, 2022.Louisville's Kenzi Denzer singles in the first inning against Jackson at Jackson Friday, April 29, 2022.

Louisville’s Kenzi Denzer singles in the first inning against Jackson at Jackson Friday, April 29, 2022.

Louisville Leopards

The Leopards have arguably the area’s best player at the University of Maryland, Matti Benson. She is far from the only source of offense for the Leopards. Addy Campbell, Katilyn Twinem, Bailee Griffith and Kenzi Denzer are also hitting above .400 for the Leopards this season. Taylor Schneider and Katelyn Miller are strong throwers. A tough district as part of the Division I, Northeast 1 district could be the only thing holding back the third seed Leopards. They will likely see No. 8 Riverside or No. 9 Perry in a district semifinal. No. 4 Hoover is also in the top half of the bracket. More than one talented team is going home early in this district.

Jackson left fielder Alexis Sin makes an out in the seventh inning against Louisville in Jackson on Friday, April 26, 2024.Jackson left fielder Alexis Sin makes an out in the seventh inning against Louisville in Jackson on Friday, April 26, 2024.

Jackson left fielder Alexis Sin makes an out in the seventh inning against Louisville in Jackson on Friday, April 26, 2024.

Jackson polar bears

Jackson is an easy team to overlook because of its 12-12 record. Look beneath the surface and you will see a team capable of competing with and beating some of the best teams in the tournament. Jackson has wins over Manchester, Tuslaw, Louisville and Ellet. Freshman Gabbi Williamson and senior Alexis Sin are dangerous hitters at the top of the lineup. Pitcher Courtney Helle has also improved throughout the season. It won’t be easy for the No. 11 seeded Polar Bears in the Division I, Northeast 3 district. Jackson will likely play No. 12 Willoughby South in a sectional final and could face No. 10 Boardman or No. 16 Lake in a district semifinal. No. 2 Walsh Jesuit is also in the top half of the bracket. However, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that things will click and Jackson and the Polar Bears will go on the run.

Marlington Dukes

One thing that is never in question is Marlington’s ability to hit the ball. This year is no exception. Maria Walder, Chelsea Miller and Audrey Miller are all hitting above .400 for the Dukes. Marlington will be able to rely a lot on the arms of pitchers Justine Doringo and Lydia Duncan. A tough district draw in Division II, Northeast 2 is also a concern. The No. 3 seed Dukes will likely meet No. 6 Lake County Perry or No. 8 Gilmour Academy in a district semifinal. No. 2 Canfield is on the other side of the district bracket. Marlington is in the same situation as Louisville and Hoover. If they can survive the challenge in this district, the Dukes might be able to play all the way to Akron for the state tournament.

Marlington's Maria Walder fields a ground ball against Medina, Friday, May 5, 2023.Marlington's Maria Walder fields a ground ball against Medina, Friday, May 5, 2023.

Marlington’s Maria Walder fields a ground ball against Medina, Friday, May 5, 2023.

Tuslaw Mustangs

Tuslaw is in the unfortunate position of having two other teams in the PAC-7 with legitimate state title aspirations in Triway and Manchester. A combined 0-4 against those two hurt their overall regular season record, but should prepare the Mustangs for the postseason. However, the Mustangs are not an exaggeration. They have a one-point loss to Manchester and an extra-time loss to Triway, in addition to a 1-1 loss to Jackson. Camryn Kiefer is a talented pitcher who also does a lot of damage with her bat. She broke the school’s home run record in April. Annebelle Liebig, Danica Crescenze and Kylie Johnson are also each hitting over .400 for Tuslaw. The Mustangs are in an absolutely loaded Division III, Northeast 4 district. The No. 6 seed Mustangs face a potential sectional final against No. 4 Loudonville, and if they survive, No. 3 Manchester looms as the likely opponent in the district semifinals. Number 2 seed-Hillsdale is in the top half of the bracket. Still, it’s hard to ignore the potential of a team with a player as good as Kiefer on the roster.

Tuslaw's Kylie Johnson singles and drives in a run during their DIII state semifinal against Miami East at Firestone Stadium on Friday, June 3, 2022.Tuslaw's Kylie Johnson singles and drives in a run during their DIII state semifinal against Miami East at Firestone Stadium on Friday, June 3, 2022.

Tuslaw’s Kylie Johnson singles and drives in a run during their DIII state semifinal against Miami East at Firestone Stadium on Friday, June 3, 2022.

This article originally appeared on The Repository: 5 Canton high school softball teams to watch in the OHSAA tournament