Pi­o­neers claim dis­trict crown

Howser’s walk-off sin­gle in ninth sends Elyria to re­gional

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - FRONT PAGE - By Robert Fen­bers

It seems only fit­ting that the third in­stall­ment of Amher­stE­lyria’s dis­trict ti­tle rivalry would come down to the wire.

And it did just that, and then some.

The Pi­o­neers (24-4) and Comets (19-8) bat­tled in a thrilling back-and-forth con­test that left fans on the edge of their seats through­out all nine in­nings.

That’s when se­nior April Howser came through with a two-out walk-off sin­gle in the bot­tom of the ninth, send­ing Damia Parks home, and break­ing Amherst’s hearts for the sec­ond year in a row as they de­feated the Comets, 5-4, in the Divi­sion I Avon Lake Dis­trict cham­pi­onship.

Elyria moves on to the re­gional semi­fi­nals where it will face Per­rys­burg at Clyde High School on May 23 at 2 p.m.

With her team’s sea­son on the line, Howser ad­mit­ted she had jit­ters.

“I was very ner­vous go­ing into that at-bat, but I had con­fi­dence in my­self be­cause I’m a very good hit­ter in these types of sit­u­a­tions. I was re­ally hop­ing she would throw out­side, be­cause the last two times she threw out­side I was able to punch it up the mid­dle, and that is ex­actly what I did.”

Elyria coach Ken Fenik was taken aback by how great of a game he had just wit­nessed.

“All I knew for sure was that the green wasn’t go­ing to quit, and we weren’t go­ing to quit.” Fenik said. “Nei­ther team was go­ing to give up. I even thought maybe at one point there that we might have to re­sume the game to­mor­row be­cause it did start get­ting dark out here.”

Af­ter watch­ing her girls get their heart bro­ken by Elyria last year, it was an­other tough pill to swal­low for Amherst coach Lacey Re­ichert. Though, she couldn’t have been more proud of their ef­fort.

“That’s good high school soft­ball,” Re­ichert said. “We told our girls, come out and com­pete and play the best game you can. We did, and they did. Both teams went at it, and un­for­tu­nately some­body had to walk away with a loss. We’re dis­ap­pointed we lost, but we are ex­tremely proud of our girls and how they played.”

The marathon game was a stale­mate at first, as Amherst’s Madi­son O’Berg (176) and Elyria’s Is­abella St. Peter (20-2) looked sharp in the cir­cle through the first three in­nings.

Af­ter a score­less and quick mov­ing three in­nings, Amherst broke through with fresh­man Kylee McGraw’s RBI sin­gle, giv­ing the Comets a 1-0 lead.

A nor­mally dominant O’Berg be­gan to wane as she had trou­ble find­ing the strike zone.

Fenik en­cour­aged his girls to take ad­van­tage of the rare strug­gles from Amherst’s ace.

“I saw the same thing, and as the game went on we kept say­ing make her keep throw­ing, make her keep throw­ing,” Fenik said. “That’s what we did. She is a great pitcher. Maybe that eight-in­ning game yes­ter­day had some­thing to do with it, be­cause she throws hard.”

“O’Berg went eight and two thirds in­nings, al­low­ing five hits, five runs and seven walks while strik­ing out five.

Elyria cap­i­tal­ized on the op­por­tu­nity with Howser’s RBI dou­ble in the bot­tom of the fourth, fol­lowed by an RBI triple from sopho­more Maycee God­bolt. Fresh­man Jes­sica Chap­man squeezed out a sac­ri­fice RBI be­fore O’Berg could get out of the in­ning.

RANDY MEY­ERS — THE MORN­ING JOUR­NAL

Cassie Miller of Elyria lines a hit against Amherst on May 17.

RANDY MEY­ERS — THE MORN­ING JOUR­NAL

Amanda Crisler of Amherst hits a fly ball against Elyria on Thurs­day

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