The Independence softball team didn’t flinch when opposing coaches awarded Laurel the top seed in the Division III Avon Lake district tournament. The Blue Devils, who won the district title (at North Ridgeville) and advanced to the Division III regional championship game last season, instead focused on all the things they could control.
That included dominating the top-seeded Gators, 12-0, on Tuesday to advance to a third straight district championship game behind a six-inning one hitter by senior pitcher Victoria Sirna, who returned to the circle for the first time since suffering a finger injury two weeks ago.
“Victoria Sirna threw a one-hitter and the only hit was a bad bounce over the first baseman’s head,” said Independence head coach Garry Moore. “She walked the first two batters then shut them down from there.”
Sirna hurt her finger when attempting to barehand a ground ball prior to a 27-1 win over West Geauga. Freshman Kim Rega pitched the final five games of Independence’s regular season and shut down the Gators in the seventh inning on Tuesday.
“We knew when the stitches were going to be taken out we just didn’t know how Vic was going to respond to not throwing for two and a half weeks,” Moore said. “We knew it was going to be tender and she’s not going to tell you. She told me in the morning she was fine and could throw. Kim Rega came in the last inning and shut them down 1-2-3 but she knows, she had a heck of a year, but she knows this is Vic’s ball all the way through the tournament. She knows Vic is going to get the ball all the way. I’m proud of her.”
Sirna also hurt the Gators at the plate. She finished the game 3-for-5 with a double and two runs batted in. Nicole Ferrara was 2-for-4 with three runs scored, Katie George was 2-for-4 with a double and Mallory Trombetta was 3-for-4 with an RBI.
“Everybody hit in the lineup,” Moore said. “All of our starters had a hit.”
Independence also played error free softball.
“We talked before the game and we said nobody beats us unless we beat ourselves,” Moore said. “That’s the story all year. Every game we lost this year we committed four or five errors. There’s nobody going to beat us if we don’t beat ourselves. We played errorless ball today and that’s what you need to win. We put the bats on the ball, which we’re going to do but even when we don’t hit the defense is always going to win games period.”
Nora Baran had just one hit in the game but she made several key plays at third base.
“She had two screaming line drives right at her and she just grabbed them easily,” Moore said. “She had four assists, three put outs, a hit and a run scored and an RBI. She had a heck of a game but during the game you won’t even notice her. She’s so quiet but she’s well loved. She’s one of the favorites on the team. Everyone just loves Nora Baran.”
The Blue Devils, who improved to 17-4 overall, will play third-seeded Elyria Catholic on Wednesday for the district title.