By DAVE HANNEMAN
BELLEFONTAINE — Mother Nature might have delayed the regional softball semifinals at Bellefontaine High School, but even she couldn’t prevent the inevitable.
Ottawa-Glandorf finally squared off against Carroll Bloom-Carroll and its ace pitcher Taran Alvelo on Friday. The junior right-hander was everything the pre-game press clippings said she was as Alvelo threw a second straight no-hit, 17-strikeout game in the Bulldogs’ 4-0 victory.
O-G coach Troy Yant admitted his players had not seen a pitcher as good as Alvalo, but then again … “I’ll bet there aren’t too many high school girls in America who have faced a girl that caliber,” Yant said.
“This is her time of year,” said Aaron Alvelo, Taran Alvelo’s father and Bloom-Carroll’s head coach.
“This is what players like her do, they show up and they give their team its best opportunity to win.”
Taran Alvelo, a member of the this year’s MaxPreps preseason All-America team, pitched Bloom-Carroll to a state runner-up finish in 2012 and a Division III state title as a sophomore. The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs will face Elmwood at noon today in the Division III regional final at Bellefontaine. Alvelo, who has already made a verbal commitment to pitch for the University of Washington, improved to 26-3 with Friday’s win. Her 17-strikeout performance lifted her career total to 1,054.
O-G, completing the school’s first 20-win softball season with its first-ever trip to the regional tournament, ended its season at 20-5.
Alvelo’s fastball has hit 74 mph on the JUGS gun, according to published reports. That’s like a 104-mile-per-hour fastball in baseball, according to the site eFastball.com, which converts pitching speeds between softball and baseball. She used that intimidating velocity to stunning use against Ottawa-Glandorf, striking out 10 of the first 11 batters she faced.
Alvelo needed only 69 pitches to complete a seven-inning no-hitter. Fifty-seven of her 69 pitches were thrown for strikes.
Yant knew preparing for that kind of heat would be tough.
“You can turn the pitching machine up to 70 (mph), or as fast as it will go without the wheels falling off, which is what wed did,” he said.
On top of that, injuries, especially one to third baseman Kristen Miller, forced Yant to shuffle his lineup. In Friday’s game with Bloom-Carroll, only pitcher Megan Kitchen, catcher Michrelle Sdao and shortstop Stephanie Hempfling were in the same positions as O-G’s lineup a week ago.
“We had six girls making their first regional tournament start at new positions and facing a pitcher of that caliber,” Yant said.
“I thought we played a heck of a game. We played a great defensive game, and I thought if we could go four, five innings and have the score be 0-0, that would be in our favor. But they got that one run, then those two bonus runs and it kind of sapped our morale in the dugout. You could tell it.”
Kitchen, throwing hard and pumping in strikes, also pitched well. She allowed just five hits, but three went for extra bases, including two in a three-run second inning.
Bloom-Carroll’s Haley Grover doubled leading off the bottom of the second. Kitchen retired Kipler Detewiler on grounder bck to the mound and McKenna Coffman on a pop to third.
Katie Silvia lined a 3-1 pitch to right for an RBI single, though, and after Kitchen walked No. 9 batter Kaylee Springer, lead-off hitter Haley Starr belted an opposite-field triple.
Bloom-Carroll added a run inn the sixth when Alvelo was hit by a pitch, Grover berlted her second double of thre game, and Detwiler delivered a sacrifice fly.
The Bulldogs didn’t need that insurance run, though. Not the way Alvelo was pitching.
“In the back of your head you’re wondering how many at-bats you’re going to get,” Yant said. “And she just keeps setting you down and setting you down and setting you down. That wore on us.”
Alvelo faced the minimum 21 batters, but needed some help to do it.
After retiring the first 13 batters she faced, O-G freshman Emily Annesser laid down a perfect bunt in front of home plate. Annesser and the ball arrived at first at the same time. Annesser collided with Bloom-Carroll first baseman Ashley Ireland, and raced to second when the ball shot free. Annesser’s bunt was debated as a hit or an error. The official scorer ruled it an error, and Alvelo who end up with a no-hitter, her ninth this season.
Annesser took third on a grounder to second by Tasha Cass, but was thrown out by Starr, who had replaced the injured Ireland at first, while rounding the base for an inning-ending double play.
Ottawa-Glandorf 000 000 0 — 0 0 0
Bloom-Carroll 030 001 x — 4 5 1
WP — Alvelo. LP — Kitchen. top hitters: (B-C) Starr 3B, 2 RBI; Grover 2-2Bl; Detwiler 1B, RBI.
records: Ottawa-Glandorf 20-5, Bloom-Carroll 26-3.
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