By Justin Whitaker
For five innings it appeared the Avon softball team was stuck in neutral.
But finally in the fifth and sixth innings, the Orioles kicked into high gear and exploded for 11 runs to 10-run rule Pike 12-2 in the sectional opener Tuesday night at Southport.
“I don’t know,” Avon coach Jenny Shayotovich said cheerfully. “We put the ball in play we just couldn’t make things happen. Like I told the girls, at least we were taking care of the ball on defense. When you play defense strong, you can afford to wait a little longer I guess. I’m not sure what took us so long to get started and hats off to them. They did a good job and made plays.”
Pike scored twice in the opening inning but it was the only time they would put points on the board. Avon added a run in the third after Cassidy Larkin scored Hannah Reeser but had left six runners on base during the first three innings.
Trailing 2-1 in the top of the fifth, a senior provided a spark. Shortstop Sadie Foster made a catch from her knees and fired the ball to first to retire the inning. Shayotovich said it was Foster’s eighth double play of the year and it could not have come at a better time.
“I felt like that was good momentum for us,” she said. “She just seems to make things happen. I felt like, for us, we got a little excited, we found some energy and things seemed to come together for us after that.”
Lizzy Snodgrass immediately singled and then Larkin got on base with a single a batter later.
That’s when another senior stepped up. Olivia O’Brien came to the plate and hammered a grounder to the outfield that scored Snodgrass and Larkin to give the Orioles the lead.
“That’s just great leadership, a great senior for you, someone being able to step up enter the game and get a hit like that,” Shayotovich said. “I was so happy for Liv, she works so hard and that’s why I put her in that position. I knew she would do it.”
After O’Brien’s hit, Brittany Whiteside, Hannah Goddard and Foster all singled with Goddard scoring a runner. Mackenzie Johnston scored Whiteside on sacrifice to give the Orioles a 5-2 advantage.
In the sixth, it was more offensive firepower as Kelso was walked and then Snodgrass and Reeser both got on with singles to load the bases. On the next four plays: Larkin singled to bring in a run, Savannah Sarkine was walked and Hannah Eller scored as a courtesy runner for Snodgrass, Reeser scored on a wild pitch and then Goddard’s single drove in two runners to make the score 10-2.
Foster was walked and then Goddard scored on a wild pitch on the next two at-bats. Johnston’s sacrifice fly effectively ended the game as Foster scored.
The Orioles meet Southport, who beat Brownsburg 5-4 in nine innings, tonight for a slot in the sectional final. Shayotovich hopes that the momentum from the end of Tuesday’s game will carry moving forward.
“I hope so. We’ve had that talk a million times this year,” Shayotovich said. “They are kids but they work hard and I know they want to win. They get here and they give me everything they have. You just can’t afford to come to the tournament without everything you have.”