Balint tosses two-hit shutout, clubs HR in Avon Grove’s 8-0 rout of West Chester Henderson
● By Richard Gaw
Moments before the start of the first round of the District 1, Class AAAA softball playoffs at Avon Grove’s home field on Wednesday, the visiting Warriors from West Chester Henderson, seeded No. 18 in this year’s tournament, stood nearly motionless – almost in rapt awe -- near their dugout as they watched the No. 2 seed Red Devils go through their pre-game warm-ups.
In contrast, Coach Mike Deluzio’s team owned the countenance of seasoned veterans who’ve been here before, and as they went through the drill of fielding and throwing, there was an air of quiet confidence that carried over into the game and throughout it, from pitcher Maggie Balint’s first toss of the game to her last.
Firing on all cylinders, Balint held Henderson to just three hits while picking up 13 strikeouts and not allowing a runner past first base, en route to an 8-0 shutout, to advance Avon Grove (19-2) to the quarterfinal round of the PIAA Class AAA playoffs this Friday at 4 p.m., when they play host to No. 7 Central Bucks East, who defeated Downingtown West on Wednesday.
It took until the second inning for Avon Grove to get to Henderson pitcher Sam Fouracre, when lead-off batter Rachel Butler singled to center, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Olivia Kunitsky. After Camryn Laterza coaxed a walk after fouling off several of Fouracre’s pitches, Mack Vansciver reached on an infield single, to load the bases for Megan Nolan, who beat out an infield single to drive in Butler.
A carbon copy of Avon Grove’s formula for winning this year, the run was all Balint would need, but she and her teammates continued to tack on at least one run in each the remaining five innings. In the sixth, Balint helped her cause with a solo homer to left center to give Avon Grove their eighth and final run of the day. In addition to Balint’s single, triple and homer, the Red Devils were led by Wallauer’s single, double and triple, and Butler, who had two singles.
Henderson, who finished the season with a respectable 13-9 record, was led by Sam Fouracre, who managed two hits against Balint.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.