Aurora softball unit still rolling, eager for postseason play

by STEVE BATKO | CORRESPONDENT Published:

Aurora -- With outstanding pitching paving the way all season, the Aurora High softball team has been adding a little long ball to its arsenal recently as Aurora earned the number one seed in its post season draw.

Aurora, which moved to 15-1 overall heading into this week, earned the top seed at the Division I sectional-district tournament in Boardman.

"We were the unanimous No. 1 seed and that was very exciting for the girls," said coach Jessica McDermitt, whose club belted five home runs in a four-game stretch last week.

Experienced pitching with senior Sarah Petrash and sophomore Nicole Doyle has been dominating this spring, as the locals have one of the top 1-2 pitching combinations in Northeast Ohio.

Petrash is 8-1 with a superb earned run average of 0.59, while Doyle is 7-0 with one save and has a 0.00 ERA. "Our pitching has been great this season and I think our offense is picking up," said McDermitt.

"Nicole's rise ball is really working for her. Her velocity and movement on the rise ball makes her nearly unhittable."

In Doyle's last four wins, she has recorded a whopping 58 strikeouts. She had 18 in an 8-2 win over Rocky River Magnificat on May 4 at Case Western Reserve's Mather Park. McDermitt believes Doyle also has a solid curveball and changeup.

Petrash can also strike out batters in bunches, as she had 13 in the other May 4 game at Mather Park -- a 9-0 win over Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown.

"Sarah has a lot of movement on her pitches and she mixes it up early in the count with her changeup," explained McDermitt. "I think experience helps her, and she always keeps the batter guessing because she aggressively mixes it up early. It's nice to have two phenomenal pitchers."

Petrash had a home run and four RBI in the win over Hathaway Brown.

ON MAY 3, the Lady Greenmen won 11-1 against visiting Ravenna as Petrash got the win, striking out nine. Senior infielder Erin McNamara went 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI.

"Erin's offense has been really huge for us," said McDermitt. "She had three home runs in two games and then we had homers from [junior] Devan Ternai and Petrash. She has tremendous power at the plate."

Red-hot Aurora stayed undefeated in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division play at 8-0 with an 8-0 victory over West Geauga on May 2.

Doyle earned the win, striking out 16, and McNamara went 2-for-4 with a double and four RBI.

The talented Doyle also earned a 7-0 non-league win over Garfield Heights on April 30 and got a save for Petrash in a May 1 win at Perry.

McNamara continued to feast on opposing pitchers as she went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs against Garfield Heights. McDermitt also praised the recent hitting of junior infielder Julie Zidones.

Other players with returning experience from last year's 23-win club include senior Lauren Bowen (first base), senior Zoe Nietert (outfielder), senior Jill Filarski (third base and catcher), junior Abby Nicholas (outfielder), and junior Sam Arslanian (second base and outfield).

"I think our hitting has really picked up some momentum," said McDermitt. "Part of it may be just the kids accepting their roles in the batting order. They are doing what it takes to advance the base runner. I think also hitting early in the counts has helped us recently"

Aurora received a first round bye in the tournament, and will play May 15 at 4:30 p.m. at home against either No. 9 seed Twinsburg (5-12) or No. 10 seed Hudson.

Stow was the second seed, while Austintown Fitch was third and Warren Harding fifth.

In other upcoming action, Aurora hosts Chagrin Falls today (May 8), plays at Mentor on May 9 and Walsh Jesuit on May 10, and hosts Shaker Heights on May 17.

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