Lady ’Lopes are WPIAL champs

The Avonworth girls’ softball team celebrates its new designation as WPIAL champion. The girls began the title game on Wednesday, only to be interrupted by bad weather. They returned Thursday morning to wrap up the win ocer Keystone Oaks with a grand slam home run. Photo by EFB Photography

By JIM RUMBLE

Good things are worth waiting for and that’s what occurred when the Avonworth girls’ softball team faced Keystone Oaks in the WPIAL 3A championship game that began this past Wednesday at Peterswood Park in Venetia, PA.

Bad weather forced a stoppage of play and the game was continued on Thursday, but that didn't slow down the Lady ‘Lopes as they finished strong to shut-out the Eagles convincingly 12-0.

Pitcher Sarah Helffrich earned the win on the mound, surrendering just four hits in a game that was shortened to five innings with the mercy rule in effect.
It was the first WPIAL softball title for the Lady ‘Lopes in school history at Avonworth.

The ‘Lopes went on the attack offensively in the top of the first inning with back-to-back singles by Domi Raught and Natalie Marshall, and Helffrich kept the hit parade going with a double to right field that brought Raught in to score and Marshall to third base. Maya Kozup’s grounder to shortstop was mishandled and that allowed Avonworth to take the early lead 2-0.

Keystone Oaks began the bottom half of the inning with a walk and a base hit, but the ‘Lopes turned a double play that was key to maintaining their two-run lead.

Avonworth capitalized on a couple of errors by the Eagles to add to their lead in the top of the second inning. Abby Stanley led off with a pop-up at shortstop, and the bright sun at the time was a factor in the ball being misplayed. With one out, the Keystone Oaks centerfielder and shortstop collided on Raught’s short fly ball and both Avonworth base runners advanced into scoring position on a passed ball with Marshall at bat.

Marshall then delivered a hit to right field to bring in a run but the Eagles recorded a double play on defense to end the inning trailing 3-0.

Keystone Oaks loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the second but Helffrich was able to pitch out of the jam to maintain the three-run lead.

The Lady ‘Lopes increased their lead when Kozup led off the top of the third with a hit and Leah Logan lifted a two-run homer over the fence in center to put the score at 5-0. A ball hit by Raught to centerfield was dropped by the Eagles in the top of the fourth, and that led to a run when Helffrich ripped a two-out double to left field for a 6-0 lead. Kozup followed with a double off the left field fence that brought in a run and Logan’s base hit brought Kozup around to up Avonworth’s lead to 8-0.

Hits by Cat Barie, Stanley and Raught had loaded the bases when play was stopped with two outs in the top of the fifth inning. Play resumed after an hour delay but heavy thunderstorms came immediately to force a restart for Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

Avonworth continued to dominate when play resumed as Helffrich powered a grand slam homer deep over the fence in left field to complete a 12-0 victory for the Lady ‘Lopes.

The 'Lopes will have the weekend to paint the town red, but their journey continues into the PIAA playoffs which are slated to begin Monday.