AVON LAKE — Elyria Catholic’s inconsistent season came to an emblematic end with an inconsistent 8-2 loss to the top-seeded Independence Blue Devils in the Division III district semifinal Tuesday afternoon.
“That’s the hard thing with these girls,” Panthers coach Megan Bashak said. “They get in their heads big time. I figured if they started off strong they might keep going. We had chances and chances but you can even see it throughout the game. The more errors we had fielding, the more it got in their heads and just trickled into all of the game.”
Elyria Catholic starting pitcher Ashley Cascio deserved a better fate. One of only two seniors on the team, her stat line of 13 hits allowed and eight runs belies a better outing in the circle.
Only three of those runs were earned and, other than second baseman Olivia Pallini crushing a home run over the center-field fence, the Blue Devils (20-3) didn’t exactly hit Cascio hard. Independence runs came on a sacrifice fly, some EC errors and a couple of botched fielder’s choice plays.
“Ash pitched well, one of her better games this year,” Bashak said. “It’s frustrating to see in her senior year, her last game she pitched well. It’s frustrating and it’s heartbreaking to see her work her butt off and we just didn’t have the defense behind her, or the bats behind her that we usually do.”
Elyria Catholic (14-10) jumped out 1-0 in the top of the first thanks to two of its three Griffin girls. Catcher Kaylie Griffin opened the game with a double to center and scored a batter later when sister Stephanie lined a single to left. Things were looking as sunny as the weather for the Panthers.
EC had scored early on unbeaten Independence starter Kim Rega and put runners on base in three other innings, but the Blue Devils’ ace always got clear of serious damage. While Rega only struck out four, she significantly issued no walks in her complete-game win.
Cascio, in addition to her mound work, contributed a double and scored a run as part of an anemic effort for the Panthers, who managed only six hits. Kaylie Griffin led the way with a 2-for-4 afternoon.
Including an error on a dropped third strike, Rega retired the last 10 hitters she faced.
“That’s what we’ve talked a lot about with them,” Bashak said. “If we can get our bats going, that’s fine, but the defense has to pick it up. That team there, they’re not overpowering but they do capitalize on the errors. And they did just that on us and I told them that’s what good teams do. They come together at the right time and capitalize on errors. We didn’t do that. They deserve it.”