ELYRIA — Her coach referred to her as “Clutchzilla,” a colorful equating of Tess Sito’s ability to perform on a level as large as movie monster “Godzilla.”
Picking up on the metaphor in praise of Elyria’s junior pitcher-slugger, someone added, “The next thing she’s going to do is tear down Tokyo.”
In coach Ken Fenik’s hyperbolic assessment, that’s how things went for Sito and Elyria on Saturday. Her pitching and hitting propelled the top-ranked Pioneers to three straight victories and the championship of the 10th annual Elyria Classic, a daylong invitational at the old West High softball complex.
It was the sixth time the Pioneers won their own tournament. It was a reassuring turnaround from the 2007 classic. Last spring, they were sent packing in the championship game by Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, which entered the tourney with a sub-.500 record.
When she wasn’t batting, Sito spent most of Saturday in the pitching circle, where she won three games — all shutouts — surrendered just two hits, struck out 35 and hurled a no-hitter in the semifinal round. She and the Pioneers improved to 14-0.
In the batter’s box, Sito went 6-for-9, with two triples, a fence-clearing home run, a double and five RBIs.
Her work on a softball diamond turns heads. Except for the fact that her nature is the antithesis of monstrous and destructive, the comparison of Sito with something conspicuously large and efficient is otherwise appropriate.
“I don’t remember much about (last year’s classic),” said Sito, “but we knew that was not going to happen again this year. This is our home field. We weren’t going to lose in our own tournament. We were going to win our tournament this year, especially for the seniors. We weren’t going to let them lose their last tournament here.”
Elyria run-ruled Midview 8-0 in the title game. Freshman Kristen Boros went 2-for-3 with a long fence-clearing home run and two RBIs, and Kristen Fyffe delivered the RBI single to center that ended the game in the sixth. An eight-run mercy rule was adopted for the tournament. The usual margin is 10 runs after five innings.
The Pioneers got a battle from Wellington in the semifinals, before pushing three runs across in the top of the seventh for a 4-0 victory. Sito had two hits, including her solo homer in the fourth, and pitched a no-hitter. Freshman Cynthia Woodard drove in two runs with a single to right in the seventh.
In the opener against North Olmsted, Elyria senior Amy Bally got the offense untracked with the first of her two hits, a long double to the gap in right-center. Bally moved to third as Brianna Wade scored on the play. The Pioneers went on to an 8-0 win.
“This was my first start and my first hit of the season,” Bally said. “Coach has been working with me on my hitting and changed my stance a little bit. That’s helped a lot. Obviously, it paid off.”
Midview reached the title game by routing last year’s champion, St. Vincent-St. Mary, 7-2, in the first round. The Middies (12-5) came back to nip Fairview, 2-1, in the semifinal. In that one, freshman pitcher Sydney Mencke scattered four hits, fanned 11 and walked none. Freshman Danielle Herwig pitched a hitless seventh inning in relief.
Second baseman-pitcher Brittany Stone went 2-for-3 with a double and RBI, and third baseman Megan Snow stroked a double.
“We came in and played hard,” said Middies coach Mike Ives. “I don’t think we were intimidated. When you play teams like Elyria, you can’t make mistakes. If you do, it’s gonna hurt you. Other than that, we played well. I thought we played well all day.”
Wellington (11-2) mercy-ruled Mentor, 12-2, in a first-round game. After dropping the close decision to Elyria, the Lady Dukes moved to the consolation game, where they crushed Fairview, 25-2, in a five-inning mismatch. Melissa Rennie launched two long home runs for Wellington, including a grand slam.