CORRY — The St. Marys Minor League All-Star softball team opened Section 1 Tournament play Wednesday evening with a convincing 9-1 victory against District 1 champ Cochranton.
St. Marys starter Avery Eckels was dominant in the circle, tossing a complete-game one-hitter. She allowed one earned run while striking out 13 and walking just one.
That one walk and hit produced Cochranton’s lone run in the top of the fourth as Eckels retired the side in order in the other five innings.
Eckels was backed by an offense that pounded out eight hits — including two home runs — to help put St. Marys in this evening’s winners’ bracket finals against Northwestern. The District 3 champ had a bye Wednesday, as District 25 did not have an entrant.
Bailey Thorwart led the St. Marys attack, going 2-for-4 with a triple, home run and two runs scored. Calleigh Buzard added a pair of hits, while Molly Hanslovan had a solo homer.
Eckels retired the side in order in the top of the first, then St. Marys got all the runs it needed in the bottom half of the inning.
After two quick outs, Hanslovan put St. Marys on the board with her solo homer. Eckels then reached on an error and scored when Giuliana Muccio reached on another error to make it 2-0 after one inning.
St. Marys added to its lead in the second with two more runs, again putting together a two-out rally.
Alison Mertz got things started with a walk and scored when Thorwart ripped a triple. Buzard followed with a single that plated Thorwart to give St. Marys a 4-0 lead.
St. Marys doubled that lead with a four-run third.
Muccio and Zoe Romanic led off the inning with back-to-back singles, while Mertz later walked with two outs. Thorwart punctuated the inning with a home run to put St. Marys up 8-0.
Cochranton plated its lone run in the fourth, while St. Marys scored its final run in the bottom of the fifth when Mertz walked and later crossed home. Mertz drew three walks in the contest and scored all three times.
The loser of the St. Marys-Northwestern game faces Cochranton in an elimination game Friday evening at 6. The Section 1 championship game is scheduled for Saturday at noon, with the if-necessary title game Sunday at noon.