ELYRIA — Pitching and defense … and maybe a little bit of luck.
That’s what champions are made of. And if the Greater Cleveland Conference battle Tuesday helps determine this year’s champ, Elyria and Medina will wind up checking all the boxes.
The Pioneers had the clear edge in their first meeting.
Medina had five errors and Elyria took advantage of every one in winning 9-0 to hand the Bees (10-3) their first conference loss in five games.
“Defensively, we made a lot of plays over here on the left side of the infield,” Elyria coach Ken Fenik said.
He recently moved Kerrigan Williams from short to third and she rewarded him with three outstanding plays.
“She’s probably in her position now,” Fenik said. “Her athleticism — she can really move after the ball even on bunt plays.”
“I’ve been just adjusting in practice and working harder and doing what he tells me to do like keeping my glove down,” said Williams, a sophomore, who drove in two runs.
Elyria is 11-2 overall, 5-1 in the GCC, and the losses can be directly pointed toward the defense — or lack thereof.
“They have to understand how important defense is,” Fenik said. “If we play defense, we can be in any game with whoever in the state. If we don’t play defense …”
Pitching was the other advantage for the defending GCC champion Pioneers.
Junior Izzie St. Peter (8-0) used her craftiness to strike out eight, walk one and allow three hits — including a triple and a double by junior Anna Aquino.
She wiggled out of both scoring opportunities the Bees had — one on a baserunning guffaw by Aquino when she left the bag at third too soon and the other with clutch pitching.
“I just try to get my pitches where they needed to go,” said St. Peter, who had a pair of hits. “We were pitching inside and (Medina) was timing it up. I told my coach to go outside to mix them up.”
“Izzie was really good on the mound,” Fenik said. “That is her best so far this year. We needed her because (Medina) can hit the cover off the ball. In, out, high, low. She had a great game.”
Elyria didn’t exactly smash the ball but still finished with a dozen hits. The two runs in the second inning came on an infield single by Madison Olszewski, a sacrifice bunt by Damia Parks and a soft flare to left by Mallory Phares, who alertly took second on the late throw home. St. Peter then grounded a single through the hole at short to score Phares.
The Pioneers put away the game with a six-run third inning. Again none of the hits was particularly hard, but they managed to find the holes and the aggressive baserunning was outstanding.
“They put the bat on the ball and found holes,” Medina coach Jessica Toocheck. “You have to give them credit when you’re aggressive at the plate. You have quality at-bats, it’s going to find a hole. They found the holes and we did not.”
Medina only had four baserunners. Aquino had two extra-base hits, LaGuardia singled with one out in the second and Abby Yates walked in the sixth.
Fenik thought the Pioneers needed the win, especially after losing to Solon last week.
“It was huge,” he said. “Once we lost to Solon, we knew we had to go through (the league) and win every game. It’s not going to be easy. We still play (Medina) again, Solon again, Mentor again. We haven’t even played Strongsville yet.”