By GREG MENGELT
Jeff/GRC’s 9-10-year-old Little League Softball All-Stars beat New Albany 15-3 in four innings in the semifinals of the Little League 9-10-year-old softball state finals on Tuesday at Clarksville Little League to advance to the championship game later that evening.
But Fort Wayne Don Ayers completed its domination of the tournament with a five-inning, 10-0 victory over Jeff to take the state title.
After dominating its district without giving up a run, Ayers went unbeaten throughout the tournament, opening with a 14-8 win over Jeff and capping it with an impressive blanking of GRC for the championship at rainy Clarksville Little League on Tuesday.
“They were the best team in the state,” Jeff manager Dan Monroe said of the team from the west side of Fort Wayne. “I’m super proud of our best. Second-best in the state is not bad at all.”
FELGER, AYERS OFFENSE TOO MUCH FOR JEFF
Don Ayers ace pitcher Katie Felger threw a no-hitter, allowing just two baserunners — both Megan Eckart and Danielle Monroe reached via walk in the fourth inning — in the championship game.
Felger struck out 11 Jeff batters, including all three that she faced in the first, third and fifth innings.
“They had strong pitching,” Dan Monroe said. “We couldn’t put our bats on the ball.”
Ayers scored four times in the first inning with the big knock a two-RBI triple by Jewell Stephenson. It then scored four times in the fourth on six singles and two more runs to close it out in the fifth.
Ayers finished scoring its 10 runs on 13 hits. Felger went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Stephenson was 3-for-3 with two runs and two knocked in.
After Ayers roughed up Jeff starter Mollie Davis, Eckart came in during the first inning to stop the bleeding. She had three innings left of eligibility and didn’t allow a run and struck out five in 2 2/3 innings.
JEFF ROLLS BY NA IN SEMIS
Jeff/GRC handled Pool B champion and District 5 rival New Albany with surprising ease in the state semifinal.
After leaving two runners on in the first, Jeff rocked New Albany starter Maggie Jo Foreman in the second for eight runs on six hits. The first 11 GRC batters reached base in the frame.
With the bases loaded, Savannah Gaither, Danielle Monroe and Nan Garcia hit consecutive singles to give Jeff a 6-0 lead. The younger Monroe and Garcia later scored to give Jeff an early 8-0 advantage.
“We got a big lead on them and that gave them confidence, that’s for sure,” Coach Monroe said of his team’s start.
Jeff added five more runs in the third. After Gaither and Danielle Monroe each singled, Garcia hit a two-RBI triple to the right-center fence. She later scored on a Kayla Ellis single. Ellis scored when Mollie Davis doubled, and Davis came home on an Allison Tate RBI single.
Jeff made it 15-0 in the fourth when a Davis hit drove in Monroe and Garcia after each had singled.
New Albany scored three times in the fourth, but couldn’t avoid the 10-run rule. Olivia Licerio’s single broke up Eckart’s no-hitter. After Riley Chumbley followed with New Albany’s second hit, Madison Kochert drove both home with a double.
Garcia went 3-for-4, reached base four times, had three RBIs and scored three times to lead the Jeff/GRC offense.
Danielle Monroe went 3-for-4, scored twice and knocked two in, and Gaither was 2-for-3 and crossed home plate twice. Also for Jeff, Davis was 2-for-3, reaching base three times and knocking in three.
Eckart threw a complete-game three-hitter.
LITTLE LEAGUE 9-10 SOFTBALL STATE FINALS
FORT WAYNE DON AYERS 10, JEFF/GRC 0
Jeff/GRC 000 00— 0 0 1
FW Ayers 400 42—10 11 0
W — Katie Felger. L — Mollie Davis. 3B — Jewell Stephenson (F).
Records — Jeff/GRC 4-2, Fort Wayne Ayers 6-0.
JEFF/GRC 15, NEW ALBANY 3
Jeff/GRC 085 2—15 16 1
New Albany 000 3— 3 3 4
W — Megan Eckart. L — Maggie Jo Foreman. 2B — Mollie Davis (J), Madison Kochert (N). 3B — Nan Garcia (J).
Records — Jeff/GRC 4-1, New Albany 3-2.