Elyria Catholic scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning then held off Independence’s comeback rally to seal a 5-4 victory over the Blue Devils in the Avon Lake Division III district championship game on Wednesday.
Independence ended its season with a 17-5 record.
“That was tough because we were so close yet so far,” said Independence head coach Garry Moore. “It was kind of like déjà vu from last year’s regional tournament when we had two outs and were one pitch away from the next round of the playoffs. I couldn’t be prouder of the girls. We didn’t beat ourselves and we played phenomenally well and they played well. It came down to one base hit in the seventh inning.”
Elyria Catholic came to bat in the top of the seventh, trailing the Blue Devils, 4-3. Independence pitcher Victoria Sirna quickly retired the first two Panthers and fired off back-to-back strikes to the third before issuing her only walk of the game.
The next EC batter hit a looping fly ball to short left field, where Independence left fielder Maggie George made a diving attempt but the ball bounced out of her glove when it hit the ground to leave two runners on base with two outs.
Ally Kamody then lined a double down the left field line to push the Panthers ahead for good.
“Maggie George lays out 100-percent and catches it in her glove,” Moore said. “Unfortunately it fell out when she hit the ground and the next batter hit a double down the line.”
Independence had a chance in the bottom half of the inning when Katie George singled with one out and Halle Dorko beat out a bunt to put the tying run in scoring position with Sirna and No. 4 hitter Larissa Adams coming to bat.
Sirna grounded into a fielder’s choice and Adams hit a hard grounder to second base for the third out.
“We beat the heck out of the ball,” Moore said. “Their shortstop and second base combination was phenomenal. They had two 6-4-3 double plays and the shortstop threw out two of my runners at first base from deep short. She looked like (former Cleveland Indian shortstop) Omar Vizquel out there.”
Sirna allowed 10 hits and struck out seven. She was 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and an RBI. Adams and Nora Baran also had two hits for the Blue Devils and Katie George was 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI.
“It was a good game,” Moore said. “I’m very proud of the kids. They fought hard. We had a great four years with those seniors and they have a lot of memories. What else is high school sports supposed to be about?”