Softball

Valley Force drops semi-final game to finish third at Loudonville

Back Row L/R: Jenna Stout (Stow Monroe Falls), Alexix Renner (Dover), Amber Peltz (TCC), Abby Warther (Dover), Kallie Regula (Garaway), Zoe Johnson (Garaway), Halli Blanchard (TCC); Front Row L/R: Courtney Beckley (Indian Valley), Annette Weston (Dover), Madison Kopp (Dover), Trinity Thompson (Dover); Not Pictured: Mackenzie Kendrick (East Canton)

Submitted by Valley Girls softball

Coming off a bye week last weekend, the Valley Girls were ready to go at the Loudonville 16U Tournament, and it showed in game one of pool play. The first game of the weekend was against Northwest 16u Select. Valley got out to a good start in the top of the first inning as Zoe Johnson led the game off with a walk, followed by a home run to dead center field by Kallie Regula to give the Valley Girls an early 2-0 lead. After a pop out, Alexis Renner hit a single, and Amber Peltz drew a walk to put runners on first and second. With back-to-back balls in play the Northwest defense was able to get both runners out, advancing to third on fielder’s choice plays. Northwest cut the lead in half by scoring a run in the bottom of the first.

Annette Weston got the team started in the fourth inning with a hard-hit line drive for a single. Jenna Stout followed that up with a bunt that ended in Valley’s favor as she was able to reach first safely while Weston advanced to second. A line drive hit right back at the pitcher was caught for out number one. Weston and Stout both advanced a bag on a ground out to the second baseman. With two outs and runners on second and third, the Valley Girls struck. Halli Blanchard hit a single into the left-center-field gap to score both Weston and Stout. Trinity Thompson and Johnson both drew walks to load the bases. Regula followed up her first inning home run with a base clearing triple to give the Valley Girls a 7-1 lead and five runs scored with two outs.

In the fifth inning Valley kept the offense rolling with back-to-back doubles by Renner and Peltz. Weston put runners in the corners with another single and then stole second base on the next pitch. With two runners in scoring position, Stout hit a deep fly ball to center field that advanced both Peltz and Weston and another run scored. Courtney Beckley drew a walk to again put runners in the corners. The inning ended on a double play, but three more runs scored to push the score to 10-1 and a Valley win.

Valley Force 01 would finish off pool play with a pair of one-run victories over the Willoughby Stars and Ohio Storm 16U. In the second pool play game the Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. After being held scoreless in the first inning, Valley was able to put a three spot on the board in the bottom of the second inning to take a 3-2 advantage. The Valley Girls loaded the bases without getting a single hit.

Renner got hit by a pitch that was followed by back-to-back drawn walks by Peltz and Weston. Beckley produced a single to score both Peltz and Weston, leaving runners on first and second. Madison Kopp was able to advance both base runners with a ground out back to the pitcher. Blanchard then drew another walk to load the bases. A Trinity Thompson ball in play drew a play at the plate for a force out on Weston. Beckley was able to then score on a passed ball for the team’s third run of the inning. The Stars were able to score two runs in the sixth inning to cut the lead to 6-5, but the Valley defense stopped the rally and hung on for the win for a 2-0 record in pool play.

The third pool game versus the Ohio Storm was an intense game that started off looking like it was going to be a run fest but finished with great pitching and great defense by both teams. Valley came out in the top of the first inning and scored four runs. Storm followed that up with three of their own in the bottom half.

Johnson led the game off with a hard line drive single to set the tone. Regula came in and laid down a beautiful sac bunt that advanced Johnson all the way to third after a brief rundown. Abby Warther got a single that scored Johnson and was followed by another single by Renner to put runners at first and second. The Storm defense was able to get a tag out on Warther when she attempted to advance to third on a passed ball as Renner advanced to second on the play at third. After a Peltz walk, Weston hit a line drive to the left-center-field gap that scored Renner from second and advanced Peltz up a base to second.

Beckley stepped up to the plate and got on base with a single to load the bases with two outs. With the pressure on early in the game, the Valley Girls on base all advanced on a passed ball that brought Peltz across the plate for a 3-0 lead. With the momentum on Valley’s side, Kopp came in and drilled a single that scored Weston for the fourth run of the inning. The offensive half inning ended on a strikeout and an early 4-0 advantage.

But the Ohio Storm stormed right back and brought the game within a run at 4-3 in the bottom of the first as their bats started hot and found the gaps in the defense. That hot start ended up being the only runs scored in the game as both pitchers and defenses played flawless ball the rest of the way. The Valley Girls ended with a 4-3 win, 3-0 pool play record and number-one seed from their pool. It had the makings of another championship run during Sunday bracket play.

By getting the number-one seed from their pool, Valley was able to sleep in a little longer on Sunday morning with their first bracket game not starting until 12:30 p.m. The girls came out and took care of business, earning a 14-1 four-inning-mercy win over the USSSA Pride Lady Diamonds.

In the quarter-final game the Valley Girls faced off against the Ohio Slam Force. The Slam Force, who had played good softball all weekend, came into the game with the number-two seed from their pool and jumped out to a 1-0 lead through two innings of play. However, Valley took control in the third inning, scoring three runs, and they were able to keep the pressure on.

Stout got the third inning started with a single. Kopp was able to lay down a bunt to advance Stout to second as she reached first on an error by the Slam Force second baseman. Beckley followed the Kopp bunt attempt with a sac bunt of her own. Beckley was able advance both Stout and Kopp on the play. Johnson stepped to the plate and delivered with a single that scored both runners, and she advanced to second on the throw home. With Johnson now in scoring position, Regula ripped another single that scored Johnson from second base. The inning would end with back-to-back pop outs to the Slam Force third baseman and a 3-1 Valley lead.

Slam Force would threaten in the fourth by getting runners to second and third, but Valley was able to hold them in check there. Peltz started the bottom of the fourth with another double, followed by a Weston single and stolen base to put runners on second and third. Peltz scored from third on an RBI ground out by Stout to stretch the lead to 4-1.

Slam Force loaded the bases in the fifth inning with one out and looked as though a comeback was on its way. But the Valley defense responded again by getting out of the inning, only giving up one run. Valley got that run back in the bottom of the fifth and was able to hold on for a 5-2 win and a birth in the semi-final game for the fifth straight tournament this summer.

The semi-final game was against the Great Lakes Sharks from the Toledo area. They were crushing teams all weekend with the closest game being six runs.  The Valley Girls did not let that intimidate them as they fought all game and left everything they had on the field. The game ended up being a very intense and emotional game.

The game started with neither team being able to score through the first two innings. In the third inning Thompson was able to lay down a beautiful drag bunt to reach first safely. Thompson then advanced to second on a pass ball at the plate. Regula, having a great weekend at the plate, was up next. She was able to rip a double into the left-center-field gap to score Thompson and nab a 1-0 lead.

Valley added another run in the top of the fourth for a 2-0 lead. Renner led the inning off with a double and advanced to third on a Peltz ground out to the short stop. Stout hit a hard-hit ball down the third-base line, forcing an error by the third baseman that allowed her to reach first base and score Renner from third.

The bottom of the the fourth and fifth innings ended up making the biggest impact on the game as the Sharks scored five runs between the two innings to open up a 5-2 lead. But the fight and determination in the Valley Girls sparked a comeback that came up just short.

Warther and Renner started the inning with back-to-back singles, putting them on the corners. Peltz came in and hit a double, scoring both Warther and Renner all the way from first. Peltz hustled down to third on the throw home. Weston reached first on a fielder’s choice play that got Peltz out at the plate. The inning ended with a fly out and a pop out as the Sharks stopped the Valley comeback and held on for a 5-4 win. The Sharks went on to win the championship game over the Ohio Storm 10-2.

The girls played some great ball and fought hard all weekend, ending with a 5-1 record and a third-place finish.

The bats were hot this weekend as the Valley Girls finished with a team batting average of .394. They had 43 runs scored on 54 hits. The girls ended with 37 singles, 13 doubles, two triples, two home runs and a total of 17 extra base hits. The girls also produced 36 RBIs, had nine stolen bases and an on-base percentage of .455.

Leading the offensive attack was Renner with 11 hits and a .686 batting average. Renner also scored nine runs, had six singles, four doubles, a triple and six RBIs. Peltz also had a great weekend at the plate, hitting for a .571 average on eight hits. She had two singles, six doubles, five runs and six RBIs, and she was also able to draw three walks. Regula contributed seven hits and had a .412 average. She had four singles, a double, a triple, a home run with three runs scored and a team-leading seven RBIs.

Weston finished the weekend with a .400 batting average and six hits. She had five singles, a double, five runs and three RBIs. Weston also had two stolen bases. Thompson contributed four hits on eight at-bats for a .500 average. All four hits were singles, and she scored three runs. Thompson also drew a team-leading four walks and also led the team with three stolen bases.

Kopp and Johnson also finished with four hits apiece. Kopp had two singles, a double and a hustle-in-the-park home run. She also had two runs scored and five RBIs. Johnson had four singles, three drawn walks, seven runs and an RBI.

Both Beckley and Warther had three hits, three singles, two RBIs and a walk. Beckley had one run scored, and Warther scored four times. Stout and Blanchard each had two hits, two singles and two RBIs. Stout also had three runs scored, and Blanchard had a run.

This weekend the Valley Girls had some help from Thompson in the circle as one of the team’s pitchers was in Georgia with her family. Beckley and Thompson combined for 32 innings pitched, 13 earned runs for an earned run average of 2.84 and had 21 total strikeouts. Beckley got 18.67 innings in the circle, threw 211 strikes to 99 balls for a total of 310 pitches and had an era of 3.38. She also had 13 strikeouts. Thompson saw 13.33 innings in the circle. She threw a total of 146 pitches with 119 strikes to 27 balls and had an era of 2.10. As a team they gave up 17 total runs on 43 hits with 36 singles and seven doubles. They committed just six errors on the weekend and finished with a .958 team fielding percentage.

The Valley Girls have lost just five games all summer, and four of those were by only one run. It’s been a great summer so far for these young ladies! The girls will play this coming weekend in the All-Sanctioned World Series in Columbus. First pitch is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Friday.

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