Playing in separate eight-team pools, the Lorain County schools also lost a Saturday game to split for the day and finish 2-1 for the tournament.
Keystone’s first win was an administrative victory, decided by a coin flip with scheduled opponent Perry in the bitter cold and stiff wind Friday night. The Wildcats and Perry did not actually play because of the weather.
The coin flip was held to determine which team advanced in the winners bracket and which in the losers.
The Pioneers (11-2) fell 5-4 to Canfield in their morning game after the Cardinals scored three runs in the home sixth. The rally included two fence-clearing home runs. The second, a solo shot, came off the bat of center fielder Kayley Keller, who also homered in the second inning. Elyria led 4-2 after its half of the sixth.
In the afternoon, Elyria rallied from three runs down to top Loudonville, 8-7, in the Red Pool bracket third-place game. Coincidentally, the Pioneers did it with back-to-back home runs by freshman Carly Bachna and senior Patty Davis in the home sixth.
“A lot of learning took place this weekend and I’m glad we get invited to this,” Pioneers coach Ken Fenik said. “I’m happy with the way they came back. We were lazy at the start of this (Loudonville) game, but the girls decided they had to pick it up a little bit. Overall, I’m happy with the way we played this weekend.”
Keystone, taking on Neuqua Valley High of Naperville, Ill., won 13-12 in its first game, an eight-inning slugfest that raged for nearly three hours.
The Wildcats led 12-8 heading into the home fifth. But Neuqua Valley — also Wildcats — rallied for three runs in their half of the inning, cutting the margin to 12-11. And they sent it into extra innings by scoring a two-out tying run in the seventh.
Keystone sewed it up after Sarah Fortune led off the eighth with a triple and scored when freshman Destiny Weber reached on a fielder’s choice two batters later.
The victory put Keystone (9-3) into the Black Pool championship game against undefeated, defending Division I state champion North Canton Hoover. The always-tough Vikings scored a 13-2 mercy-rule victory that ended after five innings.
“We have to take this as a learning experience,” Wildcats coach Jim Piazza said. “Hoover is a good team averaging over 10 runs a game. The biggest thing is, we showed some signs we’ll be able to compete with some of the better teams later on as we get more mature. I think we’re going to be OK. We showed a lot of good things.”
The Pioneers’ Bachna went 3-for-3 with two RBIs in the Canfield game, and senior Alexis Roseboro was 2-for-3.
Elyria led Loudonville 4-3 after four innings, but the Cardinals rallied for four runs in the fifth for a 7-4 advantage. But in the bottom of the fifth, Bachna led off with a single and scored on senior Alexis Roseboro’s triple to center. Roseboro scored on senior Holly Howser’s single up the middle.
With the Pioneers trailing 7-6 in the sixth, Bachna drilled a home run over the right-field fence to tie the game at 7. Roseboro then belted what became the winner, a towering drive over the fence in left center. Senior Caitlyn Minney, Elyria’s No. 1 pitcher making a relief appearance, retired the Cardinals in order in the seventh.
Davis, who homered Friday night, hit two more homers in the Loudonville game and has five for the season. Bachna and senior catcher Haley Looney each had RBIs, sophomore Anna Daly hit two singles and sophomore MacKenzie Phares had a double.
“Over the winter, we actually worked on hitting a lot,” Davis said. “A bunch of us got together and we worked on everything — inside, outside, high, low, everything. That’s what’s really helped me this year.”
She also said the unseasonably cold weather — the temperature was in the 30s and it snowed lightly from time to time — didn’t bother her.
“I don’t know about everybody else but for me, I don’t worry about it,” she said. “I had my head band and hand warmers. I just use those and don’t even think about it.”
Bachna, who has three homers this season, said she hit a fastball out in the fifth inning.
“We’ve been working a lot on hitting and getting used to the kind of pitches we’re going to see,” she said. “The weather is hard, but you just have to get through it. You just have to stay warm.”
Keystone junior Nicole Neri was 3-for-5 — all doubles — against Neuqua Valley. Freshman Destiny Weber was 3-for 3 with a triple and two RBIs, and junior first baseman Carleigh
Herrington hit two triples in four official at-bats and put up three RBIs. Junior Morgan McNulty also drove three runs home.
Keystone managed just five hits, two by Herrington, against Tara Thacker, North Canton Hoover’s junior pitcher. The Wildcats’ runs came on Herrington RBIs. The first scored senior Brittany Bowers in the third inning and the second sent Weber running home in the fifth.