LAGRANGE — Things looked a little shaky Friday when Walsh Jesuit’s Lilli Piper cranked Caitlyn Minney’s 0-2 pitch over the center-field fence.
It was Minney’s third pitch of the game.
But not only did the Elyria senior settle down. Piper’s leadoff blast was the Warriors’ only hit of the game.
The Pioneers (13-2) tied the score with an unearned run in the fourth inning and scored three more runs in the sixth on their way to a 4-1 victory.
It was a first-round game in the eighth Prebis Memorial Classic at LaGrange Community Park. The round-robin tourney continues today in LaGrange and at Wellington Community Park.
Elyria tied the score when Marie Masters — the Pioneers’ eventual hero — reached on an error in the fourth inning, then scored on Minney’s two-out double to center field.
Alexis Roseboro started the sixth-inning uprising when she hit a one-out single up the middle. Masters then sealed Walsh Jesuit’s fate when she followed with a long triple to center that sent Roseboro home.
Masters scored when the Warriors’ outfield couldn’t handle Holly Howser’s fly ball to right field. Kandis Laseke, running for Howser, came around when Kaitlin Laseke — running for Minney — was caught in a rundown between second and third after stealing second.
“I didn’t hit it right on the meat,” Roseboro said of her key single. “It was lower down on the bat, not on the handle. I’ve been hitting on the handle lately and I’ve been trying to keep my hands in so I can hit it with the meat of the bat and drive the ball.”
Masters said she didn’t know what kind of pitch she hit for her big triple.
“But I know I shortened my swing a lot and I swung through the ball,” she said. “I haven’t been swinging through the ball a lot lately. After I made contact, I had to go fully through (with her swing) to put some ‘oomph’ on it. I knew we had enough confidence and aggressiveness to get it going. We did and it was an awesome game.”
Walsh Jesuit (11-3) left runners at first and second in the third following a walk and an Elyria error, but otherwise didn’t threaten again. Minney retired 11 of the last 12 batters she faced and the Warriors lone base runner, who had walked, was erased in a nifty 1-6-3 Elyria double play to end the sixth.
“Both pitchers pitched well and I think (Walsh Jesuit’s Taylor Rahach) is the best pitcher we’ve seen all year,” Elyria coach Ken Fenik said. “We got key hits in key situations and they had that error out in right field. But they (Walsh Jesuit) have a very good team and I look for them to do well in the tournament.”
The Pioneers are scheduled to play two games today against teams ranked No. 1 in the coaches association’s statewide poll. They take on old nemesis North Canton Hoover, the top team in Division I, at 10 a.m. They tangle with Bloom-Carroll, ranked first in Division III, at 1:30.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.