AKRON - It might be considered an act of blasphemy in Champion to say anything that might not anoint Jackie Beavers as the greatest softball pitcher in school history.
For years now Beavers has been held as the gold standard to measure all area pitchers. She led the Golden Flashes to a state title in 1994 and then went on to have a successful career at the University of Tennessee.
Now might be a good time to sit down before reading on. As talented as Beavers was in high school, Flashes coach Cheryl Weaver thinks current senior Lindsay Swipas might have an edge on Beavers.
"People always talk about Jackie, and Jackie was wonderful in her time," Weaver said after the Flashes clinched a second straight Division III state championship with a 2-0 win over Bloom-Carroll Saturday at Firestone Park. "But I do believe that Lindsay Swipas is a much better pitcher.
"The reason I say that is back in Jackie's time not every father bought their kid a pitching machine or took them to pitching and hitting coaches. They play ball year round."
Swipas broke Beavers' records for strikeouts and shutouts in a season. She also did what Beavers couldn't do, and that's leading the Flashes to consecutive state titles.
"There aren't many of Jackie's records left except an ERA that was tremendous," Weaver said. "I don't know if anybody will come close to that. I have all the respect in the world for Jackie, but when you look at what's out there now and what these girls do to get better, it says a lot about Lindsay Swipas."
The sad thing is that softball fans won't get to watch Swipas pitch in the future, with the exception of some games in travel leagues. She will leave her glove behind when she attends Ohio State to study accounting.
Swipas is normally as cool as a summer breeze on the rubber, but she shed a few tears when it was mentioned that her career is done. It's been mentioned that maybe she should walk on at Ohio State, but she's happy with the decision to concentrate on her studies.
"It is hard to walk away from something that you've played so well," Weaver said. "You get questioned about it a lot, but you make your decision and you go with it. This young lady has the talent that if she wants to change her mind, there won't be a problem. That's a woman's prerogative. We can change our minds if we like, but right now we're all behind her in whatever she wants to do."
Swipas nearly went out with a no-hitter. The only hit she allowed was a lead-off single by Paige Reis in the seventh inning.
Swipas' father Brent is the pitching coach. He called for a changeup, which had been a potent pitch throughout the game.
"I'm kind of mad he called a changeup," Lindsay said. "I had a feeling she was going to hit a changeup, but I didn't shake it off, so it's probably my fault."
Lindsay retired the next three batters to set off her final celebration.
"It's sad to see she's not playing," shortstop Haley McAllister said. "She's someone I've been playing with forever; since we were like six. I wish her the best of luck in college."