ELYRIA — The strategy against Medina’s softball team was to get to the Bees early as they get better as the game goes on.
Until Monday, only one team had figured that out. Now it’s two as Elyria took sole possession of the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division with a six-inning, 13-3 victory.
“For us, the first inning is very important,” Pioneers catcher Haley Looney said. “We try jumping on teams early because it helps us with our confidence.”
It helped even more because Elyria (14-2, 5-0) knew the Bees (14-2, 4-1) liked to bring in Division I Hampton recruit Bobbi Langlois after the second inning, so getting a jump on things was imperative.
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Chalk one up for the four-time defending NOC champs as the Pioneers touched up Medina for a nine-run first inning to essentially put things away.
“Elyria is a fantastic team with a great tradition,” Medina coach Jessica Toocheck said. “If you show up like this, teams will walk all over you.
“You get it a little bit in your head when you see Elyria. It got a little mental. You have to play your best game no matter who is on the other side of the field no matter who is on the other side or what name is on the front of their shirt.”
The first inning started with a triple from Alanna Williams, a double off the bat of Holly Howser and a home run from Looney.
By the time the inning was over, the Pioneers hit for the cycle at the plate and totally took Medina out of the game.
“That nine-run inning helped us tremendously,” Elyria coach Ken Fenik said. “When Bobbi came in, she wasn’t completely warmed up.
“We knew they were good, but when things go your way out of the gate, you build momentum. That’s what you saw.”
That momentum kept building as the Pioneers battered Medina pitching for eight extra-base hits.
What it did even more for Elyria was allow Caitlyn Minney (10-1) to pitch relaxed. While the junior right-hander gave up five extra-base hits, she pitched comfortably, knowing Elyria’s bats could put things away at any time.
Fittingly, Alexis Roseboro ended things in the sixth with a two-run home run to right-center field.
“We knew this team was undefeated (in the league), Elyria right fielder Holly Howswer said. “We wanted to show we’re the best team in our conference. We have many more games to go, but we wanted to show we were good.
“This game was a good marker in that we won by so many runs. We will face teams like this in the tournament. Now, we know if we stay focused we can do it.”
Up a game in the conference standings, the Pioneers know it will likely come down to a May 9 rematch with the Bees for the outright title.
“It’s good knowing we got through the first half of the conference undefeated, but now the torture chamber comes because we have to do it again,” Fenik said.