WEST GROVE—Take out opening day, and there has been no hotter team in the Ches-Mont than Avon Grove. Since falling to West Chester East in the season’s first game, Avon Grove (5-1) has reeled off five straight wins, including a 5-2 victory over visiting Downingtown West (4-2) Thursday afternoon.
This has been an especially good week for the Red Devils so far, with the win over the Whippets coming on the heels of a revenge win over West Chester East and a victory over National Division rival Shanahan.
“I’ve been coaching here three years and we haven’t won on opening day yet,” said Devils’ coach Mike Diluzio. “But we made some adjustments like we knew we had to because we knew this was the toughest part of our schedule. The fact that these girls just battle, battle and battle no matter what the score speaks volumes to their character.”
The Whippets got on the board first, pushing across a first inning run on back-to-back walks to Caitlin Coker and Hannah Greider, and an RBI single up the middle from Lili Najim (2 for 3, R, RBI).
Avon Grove answered right back in the bottom half. Morgan Defeo (2 for 4, 2R) led off, and stroked a single to center. After West starter Natalie Beebe struck out the next two hitters, Rachel Butler reached on a single, and Olivia Kunitsky picked up the RBI, singling to right to bring Defeo home.
In the second, Sydney Skrzypiec got things going for the Devils, working a two-out walk. Defeo followed, and came through with her second single of the afternoon. Mack Vansciver was next, hitting a sharp ground ball to third, and Skrzypiec came in to score when the throw to first went wild. Defeo scored on a single from Allyson Wallauer (2 for 4, RBI) to make it 3-1 Avon Grove after two.
West cut the lead to 3-2 with a run in the third. Najim got the inning going with a one-out single, moved up to second on a walk to Katie Zibello, and then scored when Kenzi Weinstein reached on an error.
Then Butler got settled in the circle. The Devils’ hurler allowed just one baserunner the rest of the way. She finished allowing two runs on five hits, striking out five while walking three.
“I’ve been struggling early in games so far,” said Butler. “It seems to be taking a couple innings to find what’s working. I guess I’m still trying to get in a groove. But we’re playing well as a team, and even though it’s still early, we’re getting some big wins.”
The Devils’ tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Vansciver and Wallauer reached on a walk and a single respectively, moving up to second and third on a wild throw meant to catch Vansciver off the bag. Both runners when Kunitsky reached on an error to center.
“Too many plays we usually make that we didn’t, and gave them too many extra outs,” said West coach Joey Germani. “And let’s face it—Avon Grove came up with the timely hitting. But Natalie pitched a great game for us. There’s a lot of season left. We’ll just have to get back at it.”
D-Town West ab r h bi Avon Grove ab r h bi
Gallagher—2B 4 0 0 0 Defeo–DP 4 2 2 0
Coker–C 2 1 1 0 Vansciver–CF 3 1 0 0
Greider—CF 3 0 0 0 Wallauer—1B 3 1 2 1
Beebe—P 4 0 0 0 Butler—P 4 0 1 0
Najim—1B 3 1 2 1 Kunitsky—2B 4 0 1 1
Zibello–RF 2 0 0 0 Raymond–LF 4 0 0 0
Grier—3B 3 0 1 0 Barnhart–RF 3 0 1 0
Weinstein—DH 3 0 0 0 Kristman—3B 3 0 2 0
Dailey–SS 3 0 0 0 Skrzypiec–C 3 1 1 0
Gandanizio–FX/LF 0 0 0 0 McKown—FX/SS 0 0 0 0
Totals 26 2 5 1 Totals 31 5 10 2
DTown West 1 0 1 0 0 0 0–2
Avon Grove 1 2 0 0 0 2 X–5
IP H R BB SO
Beebe (L) 6 10 5 2 5
Butler (W) 7 5 2 3 5
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