AKRON — It wasn’t the game the Elyria East Little League Junior All-Stars wanted to win, but it was still a good way to end an impressive tournament run.
Jessica Sito pitched a complete game and Anna Daly went 3-for-4 while driving in a pair of runs as Elyria defeated Indiana 6-3 in the consolation game of the Central Regional tournament Wednesday at Firestone Stadium.
“It makes me feel good to know we won our final game,” Sito said. “What I will really remember from this tournament though is how great this team was and how much fun we had both on and off the field.”
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Elyria (4-2) scored a run in the first inning thanks to Carly Bachna, who drew a two-out walk, stole second and advanced to third on Elizabeth Ellis’ infield single. Then, while the Indiana players threw the ball around the infield, Bachna, showing the hustle that has been the benchmark of this Elyria team throughout the tournament, sprinted home.
Indiana (4-3) tied the game at 1 in the second inning, but Elyria put up two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to take control.
“The goal today was to have fun, relax and play a good last game,” Elyria manager Chris Sito said. “Today was a well-played game by both teams. We did an excellent job on defense and it was really good to see these girls be able to walk off the field winners in their final game together.”
Daly, the first basemen, had a hit in each of her final three at-bats. In the fourth, she tripled to left field to drive in Ellis. An inning later, her single drove home Sybil Roseboro. Daly led off the seventh inning with a single but was stranded at third base.
Both pitchers were hampered by a tight strike zone from the home plate umpire, but Sito still managed to hold Indiana to just six hits while striking out three. She also allowed three walks.
“I had an easy enough time getting the ball over the plate for strikes but it made it difficult to move the ball off of the inside or outside corners,” Sito said.
The elder Sito, who is also the head coach at Elyria Catholic, said he will cherish the memories this team made over its tournament run, but he’s also thinking about what could have been.
“Right now my biggest memory of this is not making it all the way,” he said. “It’s really disappointing. However, the two teams that beat us and are playing in the finals both deserve to be there. They’re both excellent teams.”
Pinch-hitter Mikayla Knapp made her first appearance of the tournament for Elyria in the seventh inning, grounding out to short. Knapp missed the first five games of the tournament with an injury and just received medical clearance to resume action prior to the consolation game.
Even though a trip to Washington, site of the Junior Softball World Series, was no longer on the line, Sito said she took the same approach in the pitching circle as she does every game.
“I don’t feel pressure when I’m pitching anyhow, so nothing really felt different today,” she said. “Yeah, we were all disappointed (Tuesday), but I know I came out here today wanting to win just as much as ever and I’m sure my teammates all felt the same way.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.