It took just one loss to prove to the reigning regional champions that they needed to bring it or the Pioneers would be on the wrong side of an upset.
Since its opening loss to Mentor, Elyria has won seven in a row, and the Pioneers kept up their winning ways Wednesday in a 10-0 Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division victory over Brunswick that had all the makings of a trap game.
The Pioneers (7-1, 2-0) were coming off a big win over previously unbeaten North Royalton on Monday and were getting ready for Saturday’s Elyria Softball Classic.
Click any image to view larger.
The only thing standing in the way were the pesky Blue Devils (3-4, 0-2), who hold the distinction as the only other team to win the NOC besides Elyria.
So believe it when players like Pioneers third baseman Melanie Woodard said they didn’t take their NOC foe lightly. In fact, they use the league as a launching pad for the postseason.
“It’s pretty big for us,” she said. “It’s something we work hard for every day. It’s a stepping stone.
“We feel if we are going to get to state, we have to win conference. If we don’t, we’re not right. We just came out against Brunswick and worked hard. It was see the ball, hit the ball and make sure you start strong.”
Elyria never let off the gas in a game that took just five innings to play. Briana Bentler (2-2) never had much of a chance as the Pioneers got to the sophomore right-hander for 10 earned runs on 15 hits.
Alanna Williams (3-for-3, four runs scored), Woodard (4-for-4, three RBIs, two runs), Haley Looney (2-for-3, two runs, RBI) and Patty Davis (2-for-3, home run, RBI) had big days for the Pioneers.
By the time it was over, eight Elyria starters registered at least one hit and seven drove in at least one run.
“They’re very good from one to nine, they’re a good team even one to 12,” Blue Devils coach Julie Salzman said. “Whatever number they have on their team, they’re solid. You can’t give up one run, let alone three right off the bat like that.”
The Pioneers jumped on the Blue Devils for three runs in the first and scored in every inning.
It made for an easy afternoon for Alyssa Barker (2-0), who went the distance in a three-hit, three-strikeout performance.
Barker, who signed with Coppin State University earlier in the day, got stronger as the day went on. She gave up a one-out walk in the second and then retired 11 of the final 12 batters without giving up another hit.
“Once you learn the umpire and what he’s going to call, it helps,” Barker said. “But when the offense helps me out like this, it certainly made things easier.