Do the math: It adds up to a district championship for Elyria’s
11- and 12-year-old softball Little League All-Stars and a trip to the state tournament starting July 11 in the Dayton area.
No Elyria team has ever won a softball state title in the age group.
On Wednesday, Elyria got a seven-strikeout two-hitter from April Howser and a 3-for-4 night at the plate with three hits and three RBIs from Gabby Shackelford in rolling to an 8-1 victory over Tallmadge.
Howser and Faith Hamilton combined on a no-hitter as Elyria mercy-ruled Tallmadge 10-0 Tuesday night on the road.
Hamilton had two hits, including a double and two RBIs, and Kaeli Evans had two hits, an RBI and two runs scored as Elyria advanced to the state tournament in Englewood.
“I hit pretty well yesterday, so I was kind of relaxed at the plate today,” Shackelford said. “I was also kind of nervous up at the plate because we were in a big game. But we’re a pretty good team in my mind and it didn’t really matter.”
Elyria jumped on Tallmadge for four runs on seven hits in the first inning. With one out, seven of the next eight batters hit safely.
Alexis Reinhardt, Kaeli Evans, Shackelford, Rybecca Kubisen, Emily Hyer and Cassie Miller had singles and Hamilton had a double.
The Elyrians came back with three more runs in the third, this time with two hits — by Shackelford and Hamilton — a nifty sacrifice by Haley Schultz, and a Tallmadge error. They added a run in the fifth when with one out, Howser singled to left and later scored on Shackelford’s single.
Tallmadge scored an unearned run with the help of two Elyria errors in the fourth inning.
“We really wanted to go to state and I wanted to pitch really well because it was a big game,” Howser said. “I throw a drop, fastball, screwball and change-up. My dropball was working well tonight.
That’s one of my most effective pitches.”
Elyria manager Len Howser said he was pleased with the way his team got the offense going early.
“I’m proud of the way our girls came out swinging their bats from the first inning,” he said. “They want to hit the ball hard and for a group of 12-year-olds, they probably hit the ball harder than any other kids I’ve had the chance to be around at this age group. Really in one through nine, I feel that anybody in our lineup can put the ball in the outfield.”