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DeFeo’s single sends Avon Grove back to 1-AAAA title game

WESTTOWN >> Throughout the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs, Avon Grove has grown accustomed to delivering the clutch hit with a runner in scoring position.

When the Red Devils received their first opportunity in the bottom of the fifth inning, Morgan DeFeo felt it was necessary to keep that reputation going.

“I was all for getting my pitch and locating where it was,” said DeFeo after her single to right scored MegNolan from second for the deciding run in No. 2 Avon Grove’s 2-1 victory over No. 19 West Chester East in a District 1 Class AAAA semifinal game at West Chester Rustin Tuesday afternoon. “I saw a fastball right down the middle. It was one I couldn’t miss.”

DeFeo’s only hit of the game sent the Red Devils to the district championship game for the second time in three years. Avon Grove (21-2) will seek its second title in school history against No. 4 Perkiomen Valley, a 5-1 winner over No. 1 Upper Darby, in the district championship game Thursday, 4 p.m. at Great Valley High School.

West Chester East (15-9) will travel to Upper Darby in the third-place game for state seeding Thursday.

After leaving runners on second and third in a 1-1 game to end the fourth, Avon Grove was determined to scored the go-ahead run in the fifth. Nolan’s one-out double, the only extra base hit of the game, was the catalyst.

“That inning was our inning,” said Maggie Balint. “We called that right away. We wanted to own that inning and were able to get it.”

On an 0-1 count, DeFeo took a Fuertes fastball to the outfield and drove in Nolan as Avon Grove took a 2-1 lead.

Two runs was all Balint needed to shut down a potent East lineup. Balint tossed a complete game, allowed an unearned run on one hit, struck out 10 and walked none. Balint retired 19 of the final 20 batters she faced.

“West Chester East has always been a solid team, especially with that lineup,” Balint said. “It’s tough to get them out, especially (Liv) Francomano. If I can get her out, I’m good.
“If we got the first two girls out, we’d be okay throughout the day,”

Balint won the battle with Francomano as she got the Vikings’ speedy leadoff hitter out all three times. Francomo and Leah Ritchey, East’s No. 2 hitter, went a combined 0-for-6 on the afternoon.

Ritchey did score a run in the first inning after she reached base on a throwing error by Ally Wallauer. Amelia Andraos knocked her in with a single to give East the early 1-0 lead.

“We were in it the whole time by playing small ball,” said East coach Bobby Swier. “There were a couple mistakes made here and there, but we were hitting the ball and getting on early.”

An error by East starter Kristen Fuertes on a throw to first base scored Camryn Laterza from second to tie the game at 1-1 after two innings. From there, Balint took over.

Amelia Lark was the only East hitter to reach second base, and she did so on a throwing error to lead off the top of the fourth. Balint retired the next three batters to end the threat and keep the game 1-1.

“We came out a little relaxed and not ready to go,” said Avon Grove head coach Mike Deluzio. “I though the heat got to us a bit, but we talked about it, settled in and made the adjustments. We got some energy back by staying hydrated and cool between innings, which helped us out.”

The loss capped a surprising district run for West Chester East, which began the year 2-5 before turning its season around. East is heading to the PIAA playoffs in Swier’s first year leading the team.

“We done a lot of things to get this team together,” Swier said. “From there, we went on a run to win nine games in a row. The kids are having fun playing in this type of atmosphere. It’s exciting to see what happens from here.”

Expectations have been high for Avon Grove all season despite its young roster with Balint as the only senior. The Red Devils are back in the title game and plan to help Balint get another title in her final season.

“It’s going to be a fantastic game,” Deluzio said. “We’re going to have our hands full with Perk Valley, but we’re looking forward to it. That’s a real good team we’re facing Thursday.”



Avon Grove 2, West Chester East 1

W.C. East                    Avon Grove
    ab    r    h    b        ab    r    h    b
Frncmno cf    3    0    0    0    Nolan lf    4    1    1    0
Ritchey ss    3    1    0    0    DeFeo ss    3    0    1    1
Lark lf    3    0    0    0    Balint p    3    0    0    0
Andraos dp    3    0    1    1    Wallaur 1b    3    0    2    0
Gomez c    2    0    0    0    Latarza rf    3    1    2    0
Bennett ph    1    0    0    0    Kunitsky c    2    0    0    0
McLghln 3b    3    0    0    0    Vnscrvr 3b    2    0    0    0
Ahearn rf    2    0    0    0    Thmpsn cf    3    0    0    0
Iswalt 2b    2    0    0    0    McGrvy 2b    2    0    0    0
Fuertes p    2    0    0    0
Baldyga 1b    0    0    0    0

Totals    24    1     1  1        Totals    25    2    6    1
W.C. East     100    000    0    —    1
Avon Grove    010    010    x    —    2
2B: Nolan
    IP    R    H    BB    SO
W.C. East
Fuertes, L    6    2    6    0    2

Avon Grove
Balint, W    7    1    1    0    10


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