Barnhart hurls Red Devils to 10-3 victory
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Rachel Butler, the starting pitcher for the Avon Grove softball team for the past two seasons, sat in the dugout for the entirety of the May 14 game at Unionville, peeking occasionally at the bandaged finger on her left hand, which she had injured in a game a week ago.
While the momentary setback kept Butler out of the game – she'll be back in action next week – her replacement, Lexi Barnhart, tossed a four-hit, complete-game performance in a 10-3 win over the Indians, in a game that was highlighted by two hitting outbursts that brought seven runs across the plate for the Red Devils.
“Going into the game, I was thinking that our pitcher is down, and I need to lift the team back up,” said Barnhart, who pitched five scoreless innings. “When a pitcher goes down, it's difficult, so I needed to come in there and do my best for the team.”
“I've always had confidence in Lexi,” Butler said. “She's always done a great job, and always plays well when we need her to. She's clutch, not only today but in other games when she's finished for us.”
While Barnhart breezed through her first two innings, her teammates jumped on the board early, when Carly Raymond cracked a two-out single in the first that drove in Allyson Wallauer, who had singled and stolen second base.
After a scoreless second, the Red Devils pushed three runs across in their third, when Raymond walked to lead off the inning, stole second and advanced to third base on a sacrifice fly by Barnhart. With two outs, Megan Kristman singled home Raymond, and later scored on a double to right center by Brooke Salisbury.
In the bottom of the third, the Indians scored their first run on a single by lead-off batter Analise Griffiths, who then stole second, advanced to third on a ground out, and scored on an infield error.
With a 4-1 lead in the top of the fourth, Avon Grove eventually chased Unionville starter Sydney Horan with a four-run outburst that began when Sydney Skrzypiec walked and was replaced by designated runner Becca LeStourgeon, who advanced to second on a passed ball and then to third on an infield single by Mackenzie VanSciver. After a walk to Wallauer, Olivia Kunitsky drove in Skrzypiec, LeStourgeon and Wallauer with a stinging double to right center, and later scored on a single to left by Kristman.
Barnhart got into her only trouble in the sixth inning, when the Indians scored twice on a two-out surge that began with a single by relief pitcher Madeline Frich and walk to Amanda Panati, who both scored on a series of infield errors. Avon Grove tacked on insurance runs in the sixth and seventh on a double by Salisbury and single by Kunitsky.
With the victory, Avon Grove moved to an overall record of 16-3, which put the team in a tie with West Chester East atop the National Division of the Ches-Mont, while Unionville fell to 10-8 overall, which put them a game behind West Chester Rustin for the lead in the American Division.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email email@example.com.