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Avon rallies to force extra innings, wins game in ninth inning

Elizabeth Jerger (5) and teammates celebrate with Jackie Pengel, who scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to give Avon a 7-6 win over Conard.

AVON, April 16 – The Avon High softball team scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to force extra innings and then pitcher Jackie Pengel ripped a triple and scrambled home with the winning run as the Falcons won their second straight with a 7-6 win in nine innings over Conard in Central Connecticut Conference play at Fisher Meadow

Tied in the ninth inning, Pengel smacked a one-out triple to center field. When the throw to the infield was bobbled, Pengel took off for home and beat the throw to give Avon (2-0) the victory.

Avon erased a four-run deficit in the seventh inning. Trailing 6-2, the Falcons loaded the bases. Kaitlyn Hards single and Ariyana Ortiz was hit by a pitch. Pengel loaded the bases with a single.

Elizabeth Jerger grounded into a fielder’s choice that drove in one run to cut the lead to 6-3 but Ortiz was thrown out trying to advance to third base.

With two outs, freshman Amanda Hasler hit a three-run home run to right field to tie the game at 6-6. “The big thing is that the kids in front of (Amanda) got on (base),” Avon head coach Bruce Michaels said. “They helped put the pressure on and that really makes the difference.”

Avon had 11 hits led by Pengel, the freshman pitcher, who was 3-for-5 with a RBI and a triple. Hasler was 2-for-3 with a three-run home run. Kenrda Hards and Kaitlyn Hards were each 2-for-4.

“This was an important comeback victory,” Michaels said. “I think it gave the team a lot of confidence after getting down by three or four runs.”

It’s been years since the Falcons got off to a 2-0 start.

Avon head coach Bruce Michaels, right, celebrates with Jackie Pengal after the Falcons beat Conard, 7-6 in nine innings Tuesday.

“We have some pitching and catching,” Michaels said. “The kids are hitting the ball and Kendra is returning to the form she had two years ago when she hit .425 and that makes a difference. It makes the tail end of the (batting) order go.”

Pengel allowed seven hits against Conard but she fanned a career-high 18. She is one of four freshmen players who bring a wealth of softball experience to the field. Pengel plays in the offseason with the Connecticut Charmers, an 18-and-under travel team. Hasler, another freshman, plays with the Rhode Island Thunder, 16-and-under travel team.

Freshmen Elizabeth Jenger and Michaelina Centofanti also play in the offseason.

“We have a good group of girls who are a little more experienced,” Michaels said. “We have a few holes here and there but when you have good pitching and catching, it is a big deal.”

Centofanti had an RBI single in the first inning for the Falcons while Ortiz had a sacrifice fly in the second inning to give Avon a 2-0 lead.

Avon returns to action on Wednesday when they travel to West Hartford to face Northwest Catholic at 3:45 p.m. The Falcons will host East Hartford on Thursday at 3:45 p.m. at Fisher Meadows.

Avon 7, Conard 6
At Avon
Conard (1-3)       000  202  200  — 6-7-0
Avon (2-0)           110  000  401  — 7-11-4
Kayla Oriola and B. Segar; Jackie Pengel and Amanda Hasler; WP: Pengel (2-0); LP: Oriola; 2B: Avery Theriault (Co); 3B: Pengel (A); HR: Hasler (A), Ellie Soucy (Co), Oriola (Co)

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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