AVON — State tournament, here they come … again.
Coach Todd Austinson’s Avon team defeated Elyria East 8-2 in the Little League Majors
(ages 11-12) District 3 softball title game Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Park.
The majority of the girls on the team were state runners-up as 9- and 10-year-olds two summers ago.
“I’m so happy I’m shaking inside right now,” Avon shortstop Maddie Cromling said. “My swing got better as the game progressed tonight. I was very determined that we were going to win this game.”
Cromling was rather understated in her assessment of her offensive prowess. In the fourth inning, after walking in her first two at-bats, she drilled a triple down the right-field line.
Only a slight hesitation rounding third base and a perfect relay throw from Elyria East second baseman Ashley Cascio kept Cromling from an inside-the-park home run.
In her next at-bat, Cromling doubled over the head of the center fielder, driving in Emma Reynolds and Kelsey Wearsch as part of a five-run fifth inning that gave Avon a 7-2 lead.
Avon pitcher Hannah Boesger pitched a five-hitter, striking out eight while not walking a batter. After allowing hits to the first two batters of the game — Cascio and Macey Taylor — she struck out six of the next sever batters she faced.
Elyria East’s only runs came on a two-run inside-the-park homer by third basemen McKenna Peters in the third inning.
“Before the game when I was warming up, all I was thinking about was us winning this game and going to states,” Boesger said. “But when we won, it was even better than I imagined.”
Although Boesger admitted she was nervous during the game, Austinson said he had total faith in her.
“She always gives us a solid pitching performance,” he said. “She doesn’t lose focus, not even for a second. … We’re a good-hitting team so I knew it was just a matter of time before we got on the board, and I knew once Hannah got a lead to work with we would be in good shape.”
Avon scored its first run in the second inning when Kayla Graham drove home Reynolds with an infield single. Boesger made it 2-0 in the third after leading off with a walk, stealing second and scoring on a wild pitch.
Next up for Avon is a trip to Tallmadge for the state tournament on Thursday at 3 p.m. against the winner of District 2, which is made up of teams from the Mahoning Valley area.
“I’m excited for my team and really proud of them tonight but I would also like to give credit to our opponents from Elyria,” Austinson said. “They’re always a tough opponent and the chance to play against them makes us better. This is such a competitive district it’s really too bad that more than one team can’t make it to state.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.