ELYRIA — A season’s worth of preparation and practice came down to less than 90 minutes of softball Monday for Avon and Elyria in a Division I sectional final.
Fortunately for Coach Ken Fenik, his Pioneers have learned their lessons well as Mackenzie Phares’ two-out, opposite-field RBI double in the third inning set the tone in a 3-1 win.
“Avon won 21 games this year and we knew we were in for a fight,” Fenik said. “I told the girls before the game, ‘This is why we play the Walsh Jesuits and Lebanons of the world — to get ready for this.’”
With the game scoreless in the third, Phares, who is normally a slap hitter, was prepared when she saw the Eagles playing her so shallow the left fielder was almost on the cut of the infield grass. Phares responded by lining a double to left-center, driving in Anna Daly.
“Coach Fenik has taught me all year to read my defense and do what I’m comfortable with at the plate and when I saw how shallow they were I thought let me just hit it over their heads,” Phares said.
With the one-run lead in her pocket, sophomore pitcher Elizabeth Ellis was in total control. She scattered six hits and held Avon (21-6) scoreless until the seventh inning.
Ellis said she was anxiously awaiting the game all weekend. It was originally scheduled to be played Thursday.
“Since Friday I’ve been ready for this,” she said. “I talked to myself and prepared myself mentally. I don’t really think I was able to concentrate much during school today.”
The Pioneers added two runs in the sixth after catcher Kaitlyn Laseke, the only senior in the starting lineup, led off with a single and Alex Dick followed with a double. Kelsey Plato then hit a slow grounder back to the pitchers circle that Avon’s Anna Edwards fielded and threw home in an attempt the get the lead runner. However, the ball sailed to the backstop, allowing both runners to score.
It was one of the few mistakes Edwards made all day against a potent Elyria offense. The Eagles scored their lone run in the seventh on an Olivia Kula single.
“They played well, we played well. They just came out a little ahead of us,” Avon coach Ken Matuszak said. “We were the first Avon team to win 20 games in a year and this is the winningest senior class in school history. I could not be more proud of these girls and everything they’ve done all year.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.