By MICHAEL BURWELL
BELLEFONTAINE — Elmwood’s softball team accomplished something no other team had been able to do so far in the tournament against Bloom-Carroll junior pitcher Taran Alvelo — score runs.
Of course, Alvelo and the Bulldogs did something nobody had done against Elmwood either — scores lots and lots and lots of runs and run-rule the Royals.
Bloom-Carroll coach Aaron Alvelo thought his players were a little anxious and impatient in Friday’s 4-1 semifinal win over Ottawa-Glandorf. Saturday, the Bulldogs were sitting dead-red as they belted five home runs, had 18 hits overall and pounded Elmwood 19-3 in a Division III regional softball final at Bellefontaine High School.
Bloom-Carroll (27-3), state runner-up in 2012 and D-III champion last year, will play Akron Manchester (20-8) in Friday’s 5:30 p.m. state semifinal at Firestone Stadium in Akron. Elmwood’s season ends at 24-5.
Back-to-back home runs, including a three-run shot to center field from Abby Grover, gave Bloom Carroll a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Normally, four runs would be more than enough for Alvelo, a University of Washington recruit coming off back-to-back 17-strikeout no-hitters against Johnstown-Monore (district final) and O-G (regional semis).
Elmwood’s Miranda Benschoter eliminated any hopes of another no-hitter, though, when the Royals’ lead-off hitter slapped a single just past Bloom-Carroll second-baseman Haley Starr.
After a strikeout and a catcher’s interference play which sent Rebecca Harvey to first base, Madison Arnold doubled home Benschoter to cut Bloom-Carroll’s lead to 4-1. Two pitches later, Harvey scored on a passed ball as the Royals cut the deficit in half.
“The one thing I’m most proud of is we rocked their world first. We came out, we were ready, we had a good game plan,” Elmwood head coach Matt Hoiles said.
“They hit. We knew that. But to do what we did against her, I don’t know if there’s too many teams that’s ever done that to her.”
Alvelo, who has thrown nine no-hitters this season, wasn’t fazed by the runs and hits, however.
“I didn’t even think about it because I knew they were a great team,” Alvelo said. “Who we played was a great team.
“They came out swinging and that’s to be expected. You play a good team, they’re going to get their hits too, and we just came back with more.”
Alvelo ended the first with two strikeouts and settled down after that. The junior right-hander pitched all six innings, striking out 16 batters and bringing her career strikeout total to 1,070. The only outs that weren’t strikeouts came in the third inning: Benschoter’s flyout to right field and Olivia Myers’ lineout.
“It was really great to come out and especially get the four-run cushion because when you have a pitcher like Taran, sometimes four runs is enough to keep you sustained through the figuring-it-out process, and that’s kind of where we were today,” Bloom-Carroll head coach Aaron Alvelo said.
As Taran Alvelo compiled strikeout after strikeout, the Bulldogs blew the game open with a four-run fourth inning and an 11-run sixth. Bloom-Carroll had four hits, including a two run single from Alvelo (4-1B, 4 RBI) to open up an 8-2 lead after four and a half innings.
The sixth inning was the icing on the cake for Bloom Carroll’s day. Fourteen batters went to the plate, with eight of them getting hits. Sells and Ashley Ireland led off the inning with back-to-back home runs.
Alvelo hit her second two-run single of the game to make it 17-2, and Grover hit her second home run of the game, a two-run shot to left field, to give the Bulldogs a 19-2 lead.
Overall, eight of the nine batters had a hit for Bloom-Carroll. Alvelo and Sells (3-1B, HR, 2 RBI) each had four hits, while McKenna Coffman (1B, 2B, 3B, RBI) and Kaylee Springer (3-1B) both had three.
“It’s really relieving going up into Akron now with our bats alive,” Taran Alvelo said. “We’ve been waiting all season for them to come alive, and everybody is on now. Everybody is hot.”
Elmwood added a run in the sixth inning on Lindsay George’s RBI double off the left-field, but Alvelo struck out the next batter, believe it or not, to end the game.
Benschoter took the loss for Elmwood, pitching all six innings. Arnold ripped two doubles and drove in a run to lead the Royals at the plate.
BLOOM-CARROLL 400 40(11) — 19 18 0
ELMWOOD 200 001 — 3 4 2
WP — Alvelo. LP — Benschoter. TOP HITTERS: (BC) Sells HR, 3-1B, 2 RBI; Grover 2-HR, 5 RBI; Alvelo 4-1B, 4 RBI; Coffman 3B, 2B, 1B, RBI; Ireland & Detwiler HR. (Elm) Arnold 2-2B, RBI; George 2B, RBI; Benschoter 1B.
RECORDS: Bloom-Carroll 27-3, Elmwood 24-5.