AVON — North Ridgeville was right where it wanted to be when it walked off the field Friday — on top of the West Shore Conference.
The Rangers got all the offense they needed in the first three innings, scoring five times and holding on for a 7-4 win against Avon in a battle of WSC unbeatens.
North Ridgeville improved to 13-5, 9-0 in the WSC and has defeated every team in the league at least once. Avon fell to 11-5 and 7-1.
The six Rangers seniors did the heavy lifting with Marissa Caraballo leading off the game with a triple, Jenna Yost scoring a pair of runs on two hits and Kailey Demarco pitching well enough to improve to 7-2.
“The seniors on our roster understand what it takes to win this kind of ballgame,” North Ridgeville coach Norm Frindt said. “They’re getting on the younger players to make them understand and stay focused. That’s all I can ask from my veteran leaders.”
The difference in the game was North Ridgeville’s clutch hitting. Avon actually outhit the Rangers 13-12 but the Eagles were just 4-of-16 with runners in scoring position, leaving the bases loaded without scoring a run in the first and second innings. North Ridgeville was 6-of-12 with runners in scoring position.
“Everyone did their job today and gave me a lot of breathing room,” Demarco said. “We’ve been playing together for a long time now. We work well together.”
“The difference was we had our chances and didn’t take advantage and North Ridgeville is a good team, so when they had their chances they did what they had to do,” Avon coach Ken Matuszak said. “When you get a couple of early runs it makes it easier the next time you come up to bat and we allowed them to get comfortable. I’m happy with the fact we were able to hit with them. When we see them again we just have to do a better job of knocking those runners in.”
After getting two runs in the first, the Rangers broke the game open in the third by batting around and scoring three times.
Demarco and Ashley Helmink each drove in a run with an infield single and a walk, respectively. Later in the inning, senior second baseman Toni Klammer took one for the team, driving in a run when an Anna Edwards pitch bounced off her batting helmet with the bases loaded. Klammer stayed in the game.
“It was really important to come out and score in the first inning and set the tone because both teams knew what a big game this was with both of us tied for the conference lead,” Caraballo said. “Once you get a couple of players hitting the ball it just rubs off on everyone else. We just have to keep executing and making the plays we know how to make to make sure we stay in front in the league.”
Kayla Wysocki led the Eagles with three hits. Freshman Kaylee Morton had two hits and drove in a pair of runs with a sixth-inning single, but she made the final out of the inning trying to stretch the hit into a double.
A positive for Avon? It won’t have to wait long for a chance at revenge. The teams meet again Tuesday at North Ridgeville.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.