September 17, 2014

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High school softball: One goal reached as Avon Lake earns share of SWC crown

NORTH OLMSTED — Avon Lake rolled to a 13-0 mercy-rule victory over North Olmsted on Monday to earn a share of the Southwestern Conference softball title.

It was another high in a season of highs for the Shoregals, who improved to 23-1 and remained third in the state in Division I in the latest Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association poll also released Monday.

“This means a lot to us, especially the seniors,” said senior pitcher Annie Wennerberg of the SWC title tie. “It’s been our No. 1 goal from the beginning.”

Appropriately, six seniors led the Shoregals on Monday.

Catcher Abby Rogers went 2-3 with a game-high four RBIs; third baseman Alexis Thomas was 2-4 with a triple, three RBIs and two runs; and second baseman Paige Collins was 2-3 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored.

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Wennerberg was 2-4 at the plate, with an RBI and two runs; outfielder Tori Meyer went 1-2, including a double, and scored twice; and outfielder Taylor Thomas was 1-3 with an RBI and three runs scored.

It was the Shoregals’ first SWC crown since 2006 and came in coach Buzz Mullen’s first season.

Brecksville’s Bees, who split a home-and-home series with Avon Lake, earned the other share with a Monday win over Amherst. Both the Shoregals and Bees finished 13-1 in the league.

“The girls told me at the beginning of the season, ‘Coach, our goal is to win the conference this year,’” Mullen said. “And I told them in the (postgame) huddle just now, ‘We’ve achieved our first goal. From here on, it’s one game at a time, because if we lose one, the season’s over.’ I think this team has the potential to advance in the tournaments.”

Avon Lake got the job done with a five-run third inning, six runs in the fourth and two in the fifth. Wennerberg, who surrendered a first-inning leadoff double, didn’t allow another hit and struck out nine.

The Shoregals were already leading 7-0 when Alexis Thomas produced the crusher, a ringing two-run triple in the fourth inning that sent sister her Taylor and Wennerberg home with the eighth and ninth runs. They were her second and third RBIs of the game.

Thomas said she was just trying to get a hit and perhaps produce another run or two when she launched her big triple.

“I knew we needed runners and runs,” she said. “The pitch was low and on the outside and I just went for it. I think it was a fastball.”

Avon Lake batted around in the third and fourth innings, and sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth.

The Eagles (6-20, 2-12) never really threatened, although they left runners at first and second in the first inning after a walk and junior Erica English’s leadoff double, and in the fourth, following a pair of walks.

Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7155 or softball@bobdaniels.info.