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Spring Valley All Star Luciana Mautino slides under the tag of Breann Aubry of the LaSalle All Stars, scoring the Rebels’ first run in the first inning of the first game of Tuesday’s District 20 Senior League softball championship. Spring Valley won two games to take home the banner.
This year’s group of Spring Valley Senior League softball players has been close to District 20 titles before.
The group reached district championship series in Little League and Junior League.
This year, they weren’t sure if they would play Senior League, but eventually nine girls decided to form a team and take another shot at the title.
It paid off.
Spring Valley beat La Salle 12-5 and 13-7 on Tuesday in Spring Valley to claim the District 20 banner.
“A lot of these girls have been in the championship game since they were 11 and 12, and they finally won it in the 15-16 bracket,” Spring Valley coach Kelli Whightsil said. “We finally got the victory to bring home the flag.
“It’s exciting for me and for them. They did this on a whim. A lot of them have busy schedules. … We had nine girls commit to it. We were cutting it close with the nine, but they did all the work they had to do to get here.” After the doubleheader sweep, the Spring Valley players finally got their long-awaited championship parade.
“One motivation for them was the fire truck to lead them in a parade,” Whightsil said. “They’ve seen other girls do it. Our Little League won this year and last year and they saw the fun of it. That’s what they wanted to do. “I’m very proud of the girls. I’m glad they stuck to their commitments and worked their butts off.”
Spring Valley advances to the Section 1 Tournament this weekend at St. Mary’s Park in La Salle against the District 9 winner.
The best-of-three series begins at 6 p.m. Friday with the second game at 6 p.m. Saturday and the third game at 6 p.m. Sunday if necessary.
“I have no clue what to expect. I’m just thrilled we got this far,” Whightsil said.
Spring Valley advanced to the section tournament behind a pair of big innings.
In the first game, Spring Valley sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs in the third inning to take a 7-1 lead.
Spring Valley had four hits — including RBI singles by Abbey Azarskis, Ana Hawton and Shelby Justi — and capitalized on three La Salle errors.
In the second game, Spring Valley trailed 6-4 before sending 14 batters to the plate and scoring nine times in the fourth inning.
Luciana Mautino, Azarskis, Lexi Saepharn and Adrianna Pikula each had an RBI in the inning.
“A couple big innings got us,” Whightsil said. “We just couldn’t get that last out.
“Our defense didn’t do what it did all year. We were real strong all year on defense and tonight just wasn’t our night defensively. They had real strong pitching. We had good pitching, but they were just a little stronger.”
Kylie Whightsil earned the pitching win in the first game, while Pikula was Spring Valley’s winning pitcher in the second game.
In the first game, Azarskis went 4-for-5 with a double, an RBI and three runs. Mautino led the way in the second game as she was 3-for-3 with a double, a walk, two RBIs and a pair of runs.
nNote: The second game was ended after 4 1/2 innings when an injury left La Salle with just eight players.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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