Kim Rega was especially dominant in Independence’s 4-0 win over Wellington in Thursday’s Division III Avon Lake District championship game.
Rega, who improved to 14-0 in the circle, allowed eight hits and struck out three and also clubbed a double and hit a home run in the win.
“Kim was unbelievable,” said Independence coach Garry Moore. “Her changeup was buckling their kids’ knees. They knew it was coming, too. You could hear their coach say, ‘Watch the changeup,’ but they couldn’t touch it. It was like a Tim Wakefield knuckleball.”
With the win, the Blue Devils advance to the Massillon Regional tournament for the first time since 2014.
“We’re excited,” Moore said. “That was our goal, to get to regionals. It’s up for grabs at this point. Wellington and Elyria Catholic were tough and we got through them both.”
Rega’s one-out double in the top of the first started a two-run rally.
Sarah Piteo then reached on an error and Maggie George singled to give the Blue Devils a 1-0 lead. Piteo scored on Molly Dougherty’s sacrifice fly.
Morgan Pascarella singled and scored on Rega’s single in the second inning to push the lead to 3-0. Rega then crushed the first pitch she saw in the fourth over the field in right-center to close out the scoring.
“It feels absolutely incredible to finally make it past districts,” Rega said. “All the other seniors and I were just looking at each other after the game like, ‘It’s about time.’”
Rega allowed just two Wellington baserunners until the fifth inning.
She allowed two singles and a walk, all with two outs, in the top of the fifth but pitched out of that jam and George bailed her out in the sixth.
A fielder’s choice and a double put runners on second and third but George’s outstanding defensive play kept Wellington scoreless.
“There are two letters that mean a lot, W and E,” Moore said. “We had two walks and no errors. Maggie George played a heck of a game at third base. She stopped a rally with a tremendous play.”
Rega allowed two hits in the seventh but preserved her shutout.
“It’s always an amazing feeling to pitch and hit a good game, let alone do it in a playoff game,” said Rega, who was 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBI. “I couldn’t be as successful as I am without my defense behind me. All around, we performed the way we needed to and got the job done.”
Independence, who improved to 21-3 overall, will play Atwater Waterloo in a regional semifinal at Massillon High School on May 23 at 2:00 p.m.