CHAMPION — The only thing that could beat Lorain County on Sunday was itself.
County teams may not have come out of the semifinal round unblemished, but they combined to go 4-1 and bring home two state championships at the Ohio Girls Softball Organization state tournament at the Champion Athletic Complex.
Lorain County’s only loss came because two county teams qualified for the Class B (11-12) championship and the Amherst Avengers took home the crown with a 5-3 come-from-behind win over the Lorain Dirt Devils.
The Avengers finished the season 19-0.
“I don’t think we’ve been down all year,” Avengers coach Doug Cogdell said. “To be down two and have some tough plays at the plate that didn’t go our way and to see them get down a little bit, just to come back makes us so proud of them. That’s the sign of a true champion. They did not stay down.”
Lorain finishes 16-3, its only three losses coming at the hands of the Avengers.
Also bringing home a championship was the Columbia Red Wagon, which also came from behind to top Champion 4-2 in the Class A (9-10) final. Columbia went down 2-0 after the top of the third, but responded in its half of the inning when Avery Lavinder laid down a sacrifice bunt to cut the lead in half.
“I know that I helped the team,” Lavinder said. “We knew that the pitcher was kind of getting tired and throwing more balls than usual. We knew we had to watch for balls and watch for strikes and when it was a strike we battled.”
Columbia scored again in the third after a wild pitch. Its next two runs came in the fifth, both off wild pitches.
“These kids just have a never-give-up attitude,” Columbia coach Jeff Lavinder said. “They just wanted it more. We used our speed and athleticism with our short game and our bunts.
“But our defense was huge. Our defense carried us the entire tournament.”
In Class B, the Dirt Devils grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Talia Harris drove in Marissa Bowser with a grounder up the middle. Then in the fourth, Lorain extended its lead when Ariana Vazquez sacrificed Harris with a bunt.
The Dirt Devils also utilized clutch defense in the second inning to squash an Amherst rally. First a cannon throw from right fielder Jillian Wood gunned out Kamryn Dziak, who was trying to score from second base. Then with the bases loaded, Delaney Stojkov was picked off third base to end the inning.
“We had great throws from center field,” Lorain coach Javier Marcano said. “It could have easily been a four-, five- or six-run lead. Their confidence was there from the beginning, we just didn’t make the plays we needed to make.”
But the same defense that protected a 2-0 lead also wound up costing the Dirt Devils in the fifth, when two errors on one play put Katie Turner on third base. A should-have-been sacrifice bunt turned into a hit, and then back-to-back walks cut the lead in half and kept the bases loaded. Audrey McConihe and Alexis Pullin gave the Avengers the lead with singles.
Pullin came up big in the seventh, drive in two more for some insurance.
“I just really wanted to hit the ball,” Pullin said. “My dad’s been helping me setting my foot out differently and keeping my foot all the way back.”
Lorain County teams also brought home two consolation victories in similar fashion. The Amherst Vipers topped Waterloo 5-2 in Class C (13-14), starting things off with three runs in the first.
“We needed to bounce back,” Vipers coach Amanda Arendt said. “Yesterday we couldn’t get the bats going and right away we did.”
The Amherst Wranglers beat Buckeye Cooper 12-2 for third place in Class A, utilizing a five-run first inning that set the tone for the rest of the game.
“They came out fired up,” Wranglers coach Brian Stojkov said. “We knew the other team was a little bit down having a loss right before that.”
Buckeye Cooper and Columbia began the day finishing up the final loose end from Saturday’s semifinal round. It didn’t take long as Red Wagon won 8-7 in eight innings. Lavinder, who had reached third base the day before, scored on a wild pitch after Gabrielle Schafer walked.
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
OGSO STATE TOURNAMENT
Garrettsville Jags 10, Mogadore Wildcats 1
Amherst Vipers 5, Waterloo 2
Amherst Avengers 5, Lorain Dirt Devils 3
LaBrae Vikings 10, Champions Flashes 9
Columbia Red Wagon 4, Champion 2
Amherst Wranglers 12, Buckeye Cooper 2
(Suspended from Saturday)
Columbia Red Wagon 8, Buckeye Cooper 7 (8)