ELYRIA — The coaches, players and fans might have been getting nervous during the first three innings of the Division III sectional softball final between Elyria Catholic and Oberlin, as the Panthers’ Ashley Cascio and Phoenix’s Bryanna Rivas were each throwing no-hitters.
The Phoenix broke through with the first hits of the game, but Cascio worked out of a jam that saw runners on the corners with one out, and the Panthers got their first hit — a two-run home run by Stephanie Griffin — in the fourth.
The offense was enough to propel the Panthers to a 4-0 victory Tuesday afternoon. EC (13-9) will face top-seeded Independence on Monday at 4 p.m. at Avon Lake High in a district semifinal.
“To start that inning we were doing some of the same pitches, so I looked at coach and we kind of communicated that we needed to switch things up, and that’s how I was able to get out of that,” Cascio said.
Alyssa Hicks-Watson had the game’s first hit to lead off the fourth — a single down the right-field line — then advanced to third on Khalilah Wimbley’s single down the right-field line that went off the top of the glove of a diving Meghan Allegretto, who made a diving catch on a similar hit in the first inning.
Cascio then induced an infield popup and a line drive to third base to end the inning.
“That was a big thing,” EC coach Megan Bashak said. “She really stepped up, didn’t lose her composure, she didn’t freak. She was still hitting her spots and she trusted her defense, and it was really nice that her defense came through. They were making the plays for her and that’s what we’re going to need going forward.”
Julia Allegretto reached first after a dropped third strike to lead off EC’s half of the fourth, and Griffin drilled the first pitch from Oberlin’s Bryanna Rivas over the left-field fence.
“I don’t really pay attention to what pitch she throws me, but coach told me just get out of my head — see ball, hit ball — and the first one I liked I just swung and it felt good off the bat,” Griffin said. “We came out here knowing that Oberlin’s always a challenge. They’ve always been good competition … especially with Bry on the mound.”
Freshman Sarah Griffin — “She’s my wild child,” Bashak said — hit a two-out single to center field in the fifth, stole two bases and scored on a double down the left-field line by Kaylie Griffin — her sister and Stephanie’s sophomore twin sister — who then scored when the throw to second got free and went into right field.
“It was a big, big sigh of relief, and it was nice for them to finally come around, especially the twins,” Bashak said. “The twins are usually our big-hitting rocks and if you keep them down it gets scary. (Rivas) was holding them so it got real nerve-wracking and nail-biting, but when Steph came through with that shot it was just like, ‘OK, it’s good. It’s going to start coming around now.’”
Oberlin (8-14) was hurt by a pair of errors, and two dropped third strikes that allowed runners to reach first. Elyria Catholic finished with just four hits against Rivas, who only allowed two earned runs with no walks and 10 strikeouts.
“We didn’t play flawless and obviously they’re a pretty well-coached team, just capitalizing on that error and (Stephanie Griffin) just crushed that pitch over the fence,” Oberlin coach Josie Martin said. “I thought it was a good game. We had a tough game (versus EC) early on in the Black River tournament where we got run-ruled and no-hit, and today was a different feel. I knew we had a shot, but we didn’t have the timely hitting, left runners on, couple of errors … you can’t do that and beat that team.”
Elyria Catholic 4, Oberlin 0
Oberlin Elyria Catholic
ab r h bi ab r h bi
K. Griffin 3 1 1 1 Amato 3 0 0 0
J. Allegretto 3 1 1 0 Hicks-Watson 3 0 1 0
St. Griffin 3 1 1 2 Rivas 2 0 0 0
M. Allegretto 3 0 0 0 Wimbley 3 0 1 0
Cascio 3 0 0 0 Robinson 2 0 0 0
Belza 2 0 0 0 Butcher 3 0 0 0
Kender 3 0 0 0 Anderson 3 0 0 0
Szalai 2 0 0 0 Holt 2 0 0 0
Sa. Griffin 2 1 1 0 Jackson 1 0 0 0
Wallace 1 0 0 0
Totals 24 4 4 0 Totals 23 0 2 0
Oberlin 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
Elyria Catholic 000 220 x — 4 4 0
2B—K. Griffin. HR—St. Griffin. SAC—Belza. SB—Sa. Griffin 2, Wimbley. LOB—Oberlin 4, Elyria Catholic 3.
IP R ER H BB SO
Revis (L, 8-13) 6 4 2 4 0 10
Cascio (W, 10-7) 7 0 0 2 1 10
WP—Rivas. PB—Robinson 3. HBP—Robinson (by Cascio).