ELYRIA TWP. — The Elyria Pioneers have seen the disastrous results of giving teams hope during games this season.
Elyria lost three close Greater Cleveland Conference games to teams it routed during the other league matchup.
So the Pioneers wasted no time in Wednesday’s Division I sectional championship game, scoring six runs in the first inning and rolling to an 11-1 five-inning victory over the Westlake Demons.
“When we can score first, get a couple runs, that really helps our defense chill out a little bit and relax,” Elyria coach Ken Fenik said. “I’m still making mistakes as a coach and the players are making mistakes on the field and on the bases, so we need to keep cleaning those up. But a tournament win is a tournament win. We weren’t too fancy tonight. We made plays when we had to.”
Elyria, the No. 2 seed in the Avon Lake district, will face No. 3 Avon in the district semifinals Monday at 6 p.m. at Avon Lake High School.
Maycee Godbolt got things rolling for Elyria (18-5) by drilling a two-run home run — her 10th of the season — over the center field wall.
“I just go up there and try to score runners,” Godbolt said. “It’s nice to see that I’m in double digits, but it’s just another game to me and just another hit. I’m glad that it started off our game today and I think that got our momentum going.”
Madison Olszewski followed with a two-out double to right-center and scored on Kerrigan Williams’ single to right field. Mallory Phares was hit by a pitch and Molly Fenik reached on an error by the shortstop — scoring Williams — before No. 9 hitter Jaylah Howard drove in two more runs with a single up the middle.
“I thought that that first inning things kind of got away from us a little bit — definitely not the start that we wanted against a really good team,” Westlake coach Tom Shiban said. “You know they’re going to hit the ball and you can’t compound things by making errors. We knew they were going to put the ball in play … they’re a really good hitting team.”
Westlake (10-16) committed two errors in the first, another in Elyria’s two-run third and two on one play in the fourth.
The Pioneers took advantage of them all.
Phares was hit a second time in the third and Fenik sacrificed her to second. She scored on Howard’s single to center field, then Howard scored when the Demons threw the ball away trying to get her advancing to second.
In the fourth, Damia Parks singled up the middle, advanced to second when the center fielder misplayed the ball and advanced to third when the right fielder dropped the ball behind her when trying to throw it to the infield.
Parks scored on Olszewski’s single to right field, Williams doubled to right-center, Phares brought a run home on a bunt single and Fenik made it a double-digit lead with a sacrifice fly.
“All the girls did so good today and I’m so proud of them,” Godbolt said. “That’s all we can ask for — everybody go up to the plate, make contact, move the runners … just do their job.”
While the offense was doing what was needed to invoke the mercy rule, Izzie St. Peter was taking care of business in the pitcher’s circle. She allowed one run on three hits, while striking out 10 and walking four.
“She’s a really good pitcher and you know she’s going to throw strikes. You don’t win that many games and win a state championship by throwing balls,” Shiban said. “We took too many strikes. We had runners on and we weren’t aggressive. Against a team like that you have to take your shots. You have nothing to lose at that point. You’re already down 6-0 or 8-1 or whatever, you’ve got to take your shots.”