November 27, 2014

Elyria
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Little League softball: Big innings lift Elyria past LaGrange

Elyria’s April Howser gets a hit during Tuesday’s win over LaGrange at Vic Janowicz Field. AMANDA K. RUNDLE/CHRONICLE

Elyria’s April Howser gets a hit during Tuesday’s win over LaGrange at Vic Janowicz Field. AMANDA K. RUNDLE/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — Youth, it has been said, is wasted on the young.

That would depend on one’s definition of youth, but Elyria’s 14U Little League Junior All-Stars supported the notion Tuesday night at Vic Janowicz Memorial Park.

The youthful Elyrians — none of whom have yet attended high school — pinned a 7-3 district tournament loss on LaGrange with a three-run second inning and a four-run fifth.

The LaGrange lineup was filled with girls who played on Keystone High’s regional semifinal team this spring.

The victory sends Elyria against the winner of the LaGrange-Avon rematch on Thursday, for a shot at a berth in the regional tournament next week in Akron. LaGrange routed Avon on Saturday.

Elyria got a strong pitching job from right-hander Faith Hamilton, who scattered five hits, struck out four and walked only two. The Elyrians banged out nine hits, including two each by catcher Alexis Reinhardt, center fielder Kaeli Evans and first baseman Haley Schultz.

Evans’ first hit, leading off the second, sparked a three-run rally in which Elyria sent eight batters to the plate. Reinhardt hit a double and third baseman April Howser launched a three-run triple in the fifth that put the game out of reach.

“Before the game I just thought it out and made sure I warmed up pretty good and hit all my spots,” Hamilton said. “Then I just go to the mound and think what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it.”

Evans said she understood what her role should be.

“Lately, I’ve been hitting pretty well and I knew we needed runs,” Evans said. “I didn’t try to hit, I just knew what to do and tried my hardest. This was a good team, and it’s fun to win against a good team.”

LaGrange scored in the third inning after Taylor Stefan walked, stole second and third and ran home on a throwing error. It cut the deficit to 3-2 when starting pitcher Lauren Shaw singled with one out in the fourth and scored on Brooke Piazza’s single to center.

Piazza, the only LaGrange player with two hits, scored the team’s final run after leading off the seventh with an infield single.

Elyria manager Len Howser was delighted with the outcome.

“I’m just really proud of these players,” he said. “They’ve practiced hard and they rose to the occasion against a really good team. Every team that is in this tournament is a very good team, and you never know from one game to the next which team is going to be hot.”

LaGrange manager Rich Buttolph said Elyria’s big second inning made the difference.

“We never really got going in the beginning,” Buttolph said. “I don’t think the girls weren’t ready to play, the pitching was a little bit different than we’re used to, a little bit slower. We were trying to make adjustments, but we never really made them all.”

Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or softball@bobdaniels.info.

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