ELYRIA — When your daughter strikes out the first nine hitters — 12 of 15 batters overall — doesn’t allow a batted ball out of the infield, scores three runs, drives in two more and is 3-for-3 at the plate, you’ve got to feel pretty good as a coach and father, don’t you?
“I am very proud,” Elyria coach Len Howser said of daughter April. “We work at it really hard. She knows before she hits the swimming pool or before she gets to walk the dog, or watch ‘iCarly,’ she’s going to hit a bucket of balls. And it paid off today.”
It certainly did in a 7-0 victory over Avon in the age 9-10 winners bracket final at Vic Janowicz Park on Tuesday evening. Elyria awaits the winner of the Avon-Tallmadge game Friday, needing just one win to take the district title Monday at Janowicz Park.
With Howser whacking the first pitch she saw to center and winding up on second when the ball was misplayed, Elyria was off and running, scoring two runs to start the bottom of the first.
The top of Elyria’s order was almost perfect. Howser had three hits while Keearah Williams, Faith Hamilton and Rebecca Kubisen had two each. Hamilton drove in three runs, Williams two.
“Obviously the team that scores first, especially in tournament conditions, has a big advantage,” Len Howser said. “It really takes the pressure off when you’re playing ahead.”
When the game was still in doubt at 3-0, Avon had its lone legitimate scoring chance when Jules Frombach and Erin Gardner laid down perfect bunt singles along the third base line to start the fourth inning. Howser fanned the next three hitters, using just 11 pitches.
“She had good location of her pitches and was throwing hard,” said Len Howser. “It just worked out really well.”
“We laid down a few bunts,” said Avon manager Kevin Horrocks. “We got some things going, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Elyria put the game away with a four-spot in the bottom of the fourth — all unearned against Andrea Horrocks, who pitched well for Avon. Horrocks allowed just two earned runs and struck out 11 in a complete-game loss.
“The thing is, Elyria’s a good team,” said Horrocks. “Three or four of these girls played at the Majors level. We don’t have a girl playing at the Majors level. That’s perfectly fine and perfectly legal. It’s good playing up (at the next level). That helps with the competition.
“(Andrea) did really well — threw strikes — but we had some errors (three) behind her. We’ll bounce back and go to Tallmadge Friday and see what we can do and hopefully we’re back here on Monday to play Elyria again.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.