Seven-run first leads to Avon Grove's 10-0 win
04/05/2016 12:23PM ● Published by Richard Gaw
Moments before the start of last Friday afternoon's Ches-Mont softball game between Avon Grove and visiting West Chester East, Vikings coach Bobby Swier said he looked forward to his team facing Maggie Balint, the fastball phenom and starting pitcher for the Red Devils.
He used the word “Respect” in referring not only to Balint, but to the entire Avon Grove team.
A little more than an hour later, the word had so cemented itself into the fabric of the game's result that it practically put on a uniform and ran the bases.
Behind a seven-run first inning and Balint's no-hitter, Avon Grove defeated East 10-0, in a game that was called after four and a half innings because of the Mercy Rule.
East starting pitcher Kristen Fuertes was knocked around early, surrendering a lead-off walk to Meghan Nolan, who moved to third on an infield single by Morgan DeFeo, and scored on an infield single by Balint. Rachel Butler then doubled to left center, driving in Defeo and Balint ahead of her, advanced to third on an infield single by Olivia McGarvey, and came in to score on a single to center field by Olivia Kunitsky. After McGarvey scored on a ground out by Camryn Laterza, a bunt single by Laura Thompson put two Avon Grove runners on for Nolan, who promptly belted a two-run triple to right field to clear the bases.
The Red Devils punched across three more runs in the second inning, which got started when Balint led off with her second single of the day. She advanced to second on a walk to Allyson Wallauer, and scored – along with Wallauer – on a single by Butler. McGarvey then notched her second hit of the game on a single that brought Butler in to score.
Meanwhile, Balint was electric on the mound, baffling East hitters with a blazing fastball and a generous blend of off-speed pitches that led to a nine-strikeout, no-hit performance. The only trouble she had came early, in the top of the first inning, when East's Leah Richey attempted to slap a ball past Balint, who collared the ball in but made a wild throw over first baseman Wallauer that put Richey on third base with just one out. Balint subsequently struck out Nia Bond and got clean-up hitter Amelia Lark to ground out.
The win gives Avon Grove a 2-1 record in the early season and its second consecutive shutout, the first coming on March 30 against Unionville. The Red Devils host Kennett on April 6, then travel to Conestoga on April 8.
The loss by East gives the Vikings a 1-2 record, with a home game against Great Valley scheduled for April 6.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.