Avonworth finishes off Keystone Oaks for 1st WPIAL softball title

Thursday, May 30, 2019 | 12:57 PM

Avonworth took part in a hit parade Wednesday as the Antelopes blooped and smashed their way to a big lead before the WPIAL Class 3A softball title game was suspended.

Once play resumed Thursday, it didn’t take long for the Lopes to finish off Keystone Oaks. Now, they are ready for their first softball victory parade.

Senior Sarah Helffrich crushed a grand slam on the second pitch when the game resumed Thursday morning as Avonworth cruised to a 12-0 victory in a game shortened to five innings by the mercy rule. It is the first softball championship in school history.

“It’s nice to make history with this group of girls,” Avonworth coach Jenna Muncie said. “They’re awesome.”

Top-seeded Avonworth (20-2) tried to beat both Keystone Oaks (13-6) and the weather Wednesday.

The Lopes succeeded on the first part, jumping out to an 8-0 lead by the fifth inning. However, they could not beat Mother Nature as the game was first delayed and then suspended because of heavy rains following a lightning delay.

Then, Helffrich delivered the KO punch with the grand slam that put the Antelopes up 12-0. The Golden Eagles went down in order in the bottom of the fifth as the mercy rule kicked in to finish a dominant offensive performance for the Lopes.

“We definitely wish we could have finished the game yesterday,” Helffrich said. “We’ve been working for this for so long. Being told we can’t do it and to finally get here to show everybody we can do it, we were so ready to get on this field today.”

Avonworth hammered out 16 hits in five innings, including six extra-base hits and two home runs.

“I knew that’s what we are capable of,” Muncie said. “We just had to remain calm and play our game, and when we did, I knew our bats could explode.”

The top five hitters in the Antelopes lineup could not be stopped. Dominique Raught, Natalie Marshall, Helffrich, Maya Kozup and Leah Logan were a combined 14 for 19 with nine runs scored and 12 RBIs.

Helffrich had a run-scoring double to start the scoring in the first, followed by an RBI single by Kozup to make it 2-0 Avonworth after one inning.

Marshall delivered a single that scored Abby Stanley in the second. Then Logan smacked a two-run homer in the third.

The Antelopes’ lead ballooned to 8-0 on back-to-back RBI doubles by Helffrich and Kozup, who scored on a single by Logan in the fourth inning.

Keystone Oaks was able to get the first two batters on base in both the first and second innings but could not score either time. A 4-3 double play ended the first inning rally, and a pop out and fielder’s choice ended the Golden Eagles second after they had loaded the bases with one out.

The Antelopes will face District 10 runner-up Fort LeBoeuf in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs Monday.

Keystone Oaks qualified for the PIAA postseason and will battle District 10 champion Girard.

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