ELYRIA — Brunswick junior Courtney Saville learned to pitch down in Virginia.
This is probably not the spooky product of a force at work in the cosmos. But it’s at least an interesting coincidence that Saville was in the circle Wednesday afternoon when Elyria’s offense went south.
Saville pitched a five-hitter in which she struck out six and walked only one in the Blue Devils’ 9-4 Northern Ohio Conference thumping of the Pioneers at the Elyria West complex. If not for the Pioneers’ four-run sixth inning, she would have recorded a complete-game shutout.
And if not for the fact that Brunswick (6-4, 3-1 NOC) loaded the bases with one out in the fifth but couldn’t score, it might have been Elyria’s first mercy-rule loss in memory.
The Pioneers (8-4, 2-2) trailed 9-0 at the time and failed to score in their half of the inning. Had the Blue Devils scored after loading the bases minutes earlier, the game would have ended after five via the 10-run mercy rule.
The Pioneers ruined Saville’s shutout bid in the sixth when they scored four runs on two hits, including Elizabeth Ellis’s two-run triple, a walk and a Brunswick error. Kandis Laseke and Mackenzie Phares scored on Ellis’s blast down the right field line. Ellis scored on Kaitlyn Laseke’s single up the middle, and Laseke scored on a wild pitch.
Saville said she might have eased up a little when the Pioneers scored their runs. But she also said her best pitches were effective throughout.
“I guess my spins weren’t as tight as they should be,” Saville said of the rough sixth inning. “And I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s the sixth inning and we’re already winning.’ Mostly, I threw my fastball and backhand (flip) changeup and they were working for me.”
Julie Salzman, Brunswick’s veteran coach who played at Amherst, was more than merely pleased with the outcome.
“I just told the girls that was probably our best team effort thus far this season,” Salzman said. “I felt like they were having fun, picking one another up and just playing as one. That’s as opposed to playing as individuals in the infield. They were talking it up tonight and, again, that’s something we haven’t seen yet this season. I’m very proud of them.”
The Blue Devils got three hits each from Sydney Sherry and Maria Payne, one of Sherry’s a double. And they had two hits each from Paige Salisbury, Jess Calhoun, Megan Mulhan, Molly Grzybowski and Saville.
Ellis was the only Pioneer with more than one hit.
“They came out with a barrage of hits,” Pioneers coach Ken Fenik said. “I mean, they just ripped our pitching. We didn’t hit (Saville) early, we’re too tentative and we’re not attacking the ball at all.
This (one-sided loss) is a first for this staff. Thank God we didn’t get run-ruled, because I don’t know if that’s ever happened.
“We knew they could hit and we knew they had a different pitcher from Virginia,” Fenik said. “We can hit the ball, but you have to have that mindset. I could be embarrassed by the way we played, but you know what? All these things are fixable. Now, did I think it would take through 12 games to have this figured out? No. But this is a process and it’s just taken longer.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.