Seniors Caitlyn Minney and Alexis Roseboro led the way for the Pioneers, who captured their ninth straight Division I district title Wednesday with a 3-0 win over Avon Lake in a battle of state-ranked teams.
Minney threw a three-hit shutout with 16 strikeouts and Roseboro had the big hit that ended Avon Lake’s season for the second straight year. Oh, and freshman Carly Bachna delivered the insurance blow, a two-run home run to the deepest part of center field.
Elyria, 24-5 and ranked third in the state coaches poll, will play St. Joseph Academy on May 30 in a regional semifinal. St. Joseph’s was a 10-5 winner over Midpark in the Parma district final. Avon Lake, ranked fourth, ended its season at 25-2, the best record in school history.
“If we played 10 times, who knows who would win more?” Elyria coach Ken Fenik said. “Those were two great teams on the field today. Our seniors stepped up today, Sybil (Roseboro) did a great job of baserunning and we got a big hit from the freshman. This group deserves this. They have really come a long way since the start of the season.”
Minney (19-3) took advantage of a generous strike zone to systematically mow down the Shoregals. She struck out the side three times and recorded at least one strikeout each inning. She also worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning, striking out Taylor Thomas and Annie Wennerberg to preserve a scoreless tie.
“I had all of my pitches working today,” Minney said. “I knew we could do this. Everybody pulled together to get this done. I’m not going to say I didn’t start to get nervous the longer the score stayed tied, but I knew we would pull this out.”
Although the Pioneers got at least one hit in every inning off Wennerberg, it wasn’t until the sixth that they finally broke through. First baseman Patty Davis led off with a double to the power alley in right-center and from there the Roseboro family connection took over.
Sybil, a sophomore, came in to pinch run for Davis and Alexis delivered a line-drive double that scored her sister with the only run the Pioneers ended up needing.
“That hit was better than a home run for me because I’m known as just a power hitter and no one expects me to get a solid line drive,” said Alexis Roseboro, whose home run was the difference when Elyria knocked Avon Lake out of the tournament in the district semifinals last year. “We have seven seniors on this team and we want to go out with a bang. We want to go to states again and win it all this time.”
Bachna, Elyria’s freshman third baseman, didn’t let the pressure of her first district final get to her. After striking out in her only previous at-bat, she connected this time, sending an 0-2 pitch over the fence for her fifth home run of the year.
“That was my pitch and I drove it,” Bachna said. “This was so exciting. I knew as soon as I hit it. “I’m so happy to be on this team and felt great to be able to contribute to us winning districts.”
Avon Lake stayed around the entire game, but never could get to Minney.
“We had chances early in the game but just didn’t come through,” Avon Lake coach Buzz Mullen said. “I told the girls after the game I’m so proud of them. We never gave up to the final out. Annie pitched a great game and the defense played well. We just didn’t get any offense. I’ve been around this program for almost 10 years and this is best collection of players we’ve ever had.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.