Girls take section title

Avonworth’s Domi Raught scores the first run of Monday’s showdown against Beaver, which put the Lady ‘Lopes firmly at the top of WPIAL’s 3A Section 2. The girls wrapped up section play onWednesday, and now prepare for the WPIAL playoffs. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

By JIM RUMBLE

It was Senior Night for the Avonworth girls’ softball team, and it was an awesome time to pull out a victory and claim the 3A Section 2 title. Avonworth battled back from an early deficit and scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat Beaver at home on this past Monday 4-3.

For Lady ‘Lopes coach Jenna Muncie, it was her third section title here over the past four years.

"They're [Beaver] a good team," said Muncie. "We know the only way to beat them is to keep it close and grind and we came up with a big win in the end."

Senior pitcher Sarah Helffrich went the distance on the mound, giving up just three runs on 10 hits.

"I thought our energy was great throughout the whole game," said Helffrich. "We didn't fall out at any one point. We didn't give up and we stayed consistent throughout the whole game."

Avonworth got on the scoreboard when they came to bat in the bottom of the second. Domi Raught led off the inning with a base hit to right field and advanced to second base on Meghan Fissore's sacrifice bunt. The Bobcats tried to catch Raught off the bag after the out at first base, but the throw from there sailed into deep left field, allowing Raught to score and put the Lady ‘Lopes in front 1-0.

The lead didn't last long as Beaver led off the top of the third with a home run just inside the foul pole in left field to put the score at 1-1.

The Bobcats took the lead in the top of the fourth with four hits producing two runs and a 3-1 lead.

Helffrich led off the bottom of the fourth with a base hit and Raught reached base on an error with one out, but Beaver closed out the inning with two strikeouts to maintain their two run lead.

That would change when Avonworth came to bat in the bottom of the fifth inning. Emily Davis drew a walk with one out and moved to second base on a passed ball, and Maya Kozup reached base on an infield hit to put two runners on base. Helffrich came to bat and chalked a double down the left field line that brought in two runs to tie the score 3-3.

Fissore and Cat Berie obtained hits in the bottom of the sixth, but both runners were stranded in scoring position when the inning ended.

Avonworth had a couple of good plays defensively in the top of the seventh when Fissore handled a smash hit at third base and Abby Stanley snared a soft liner at shortstop to close out the inning.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Davis drew a walk and Helffrich followed with a grounder to shortstop, but the throw to second base was late for the force-out to put two runners on.

A grounder by Leah Logan came next, but the ball was overthrown at third base to get the lead runner, allowing Davis to get home to complete a 4-3 victory for the Lady ‘Lopes.

Both seniors on the team had multiple hit games as Helffrich went 3-4 and Kozup went 2-4 at bat.

"We played pretty good defense," said Kozup. "We're able to pick each other up and just play together."

Avonworth (9-1, 16-1) finished up with section play when they traveled to North Catholic this past Wednesday and came from behind again to defeat the Trojans 9-5.

The Lady 'Lopes trailed 5-4 going into the top of the seventh and scored five runs, including a homer by Kozup, on their way to victory.

Helffrich pitched a complete game for the win while Avonworth banged out 15 hits on offense, including multiple hit games turned in by Helffrich, Kozup, Raught, Fissore, Barie and Natalie Marshall.