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Photo Reporter/Robert Hayes Canfield Jr. Malena Toth shoots from the field during a home game against Howland last week. With a slew of impressive numbers, Toth helped the Cardinals start the spring 12-1.

CANFIELD — After a successful campaign in 2024, junior pitcher Malina Toth and Cardinal Canfield have gone into action this year in hopes of proving that the success they enjoyed last season has carried over into this spring.

Already committed to the University of Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference, Toth showed growth through 13 games played, especially with a new coaching staff in place.

“I just work with my coach (Michael Kernan) and they have good pitches, knowing what’s there and what’s good,” Toth said what she attributes her success to. “He gives a good boost to the team and we’re having a lot of fun here. We’ve got a lot of players coming back. We’ve got a lot of seniors, so we’re used to playing with each other and it’s a good chemistry between the two teams.

“There’s not a lot to improve, but I’m just working on the pitches, so it’s still good and it works on my speed.”

With 56.2 runs batted in the circuit, Toth collected 119 strikeouts with a 9-0 record, bringing batters to a 173 strikeout average. That’s while giving up just six walks and posting a blistering ERA of 0.74.

Having already had a perfect game on her resume, Toth added another game a few weeks ago in a 3-0 win over Keyser (WV) during the Cardinals’ trip to Myrtle Beach.

Equally offensively dangerous was Toth with a . 438 batting average and a team-leading 11 RBI.

Kiernan spent last season as an assistant at Hiram College and spent nearly two decades at Ursuline High School before that.

When someone moves into a new coaching position, especially with someone as talented as Toth on the roster, there is a way to introduce new items and advice while allowing the athlete to be themselves.

“She’s mentally and physically strong, and she doesn’t hesitate to throw this team on her back. She knows that and she wants it. She’s just a solid player in general,” Kiernan said. “She’s a little quiet to me, where she doesn’t know if she’s getting what I’m saying to her, but she’s getting what I’m saying to her. It’s also that trusting relationship that doesn’t happen overnight.

“She plays with a very good traveling team, and they had a great season last year. As a pitcher, you have these key people that you rely on and she has some key people.”

Canfield has an overall record of 12-1 this season, a year after winning the county title and making a trip to the Regionals. Toth credits the continuity and friendships she built for her success, knowing she always had someone to rely on.

“We’ve been playing together since we were kids so it’s just a lot of fun and we have good team chemistry that way,” Toth said. “The adults, they’re really good leaders for us and really good players. Bella Kennedy is a pitcher like me, and whenever I have the day off she’s there to support me and help me through it.”

The Cardinals won two straight games over their AAC opponent, their only loss of the spring coming at the end of their tour of South Carolina in a 2-1 loss to Bluefield (WV).

With a 4-0 conference record and an impressive 2-0 win over a perennial powerhouse champion, Kernan sees the team as doing the most important thing – and having fun.

“This team and how united they are, they’ve grown up with each other their whole lives, and that’s just a bond that I wasn’t used to coming from where I come from,” Kiernan said. “The friendships they have, for me, I’m maturing and growing with this new variable of team chemistry. It’s special. Such a great group of kids here in Canfield, good leadership for all the seniors on the team. Like Bella who keeps Malena under her wing like a senior, it’s fun And special watching these kids are the team that they are.”

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