AVON — The Elyria East All-Stars saved the best for last Saturday night.
Elyria scored four runs in the fifth inning to take the lead and Erin Laboe came on in relief to shut down Avon for the final two innings as Elyria East emerged from the U-12 losers bracket with a 9-5 win in a District 3 Little League softball game at Veterans Memorial Park.
The win sets up a rematch for Elyria East on Monday against the Tallmadge team that knocked it into the losers bracket. If Elyria East can win in Tallmadge, they would meet again Tuesday in Elyria.
“This win gives us a lot of energy and hope to do better against Tallmadge next week,” shortstop Julia Alegretto said.
Alegretto, the Elyria East leadoff hitter, went 3-for-3, scored a pair of runs and reached base in all four plate appearances against Avon.
“I usually don’t hit the ball out of the infield so I know I have to run fast and make something happen to get on base,” said Alegretto, who said her travel ball experience helped prepare her for the Little League tournament.
Avon, playing as the visiting team at its home park, took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Alexis Szalai and Jessica Novak scored on wild pitches.
Elyria East answered with three runs in the bottom of the first. Avon retook the lead in the fourth inning after pinch hitter Isabel Stitchick walked with one out, stole second and came around to score on a bunt hit from Ellie Cibulskas.
“We knew the Avon team was a good team and they were going to be ready for us tonight,” Elyria East manager Kevin Jameson said. “Last week when we got runs scored against us the girls came off the field dragging their heads. Today Avon jumped out to the lead and our girls never got down and responded well to adversity, and it showed in the final score.”
With the game tied at 5 going into the bottom of the fifth, Amanda Demyan led off by getting hit in the foot with a pitch. Two batters later she scored what proved to be the winning run on an RBI fielder’s choice by Cassidy Scott. Madison Schultz and Alegretto followed with singles and scored.
“I’ve hit against Jessica Novak before and I know how good she can pitch but I was confident I could get a hit,” said Schultz, the Elyria East second baseman who was 2-for-2 with two runs scored after entering the game in the fourth inning. “When I got on base in the fourth inning and finally scored I was so thrilled because I looked at the lineup and it was almost my turn to hit again. Because I love batting and I just felt like I could get on base again.”
Alexis Qualls pitched the first four innings for Elyria East before Laboe came on to strike out three in two innings.
“Laboe didn’t play the last time against Avon so we figured we’d save her for the end to come in and shut them down, especially with the bottom of their order coming up,” Jameson said.
The victorious manager pointed out that it took all 12 girls on the roster to bring the team to the brink of the district title.
“It’s been a total team effort, not only with the girls but also with the parents,” he said. “Everyone has been there for each other, put the team first and played an important role in the team making it this far.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.