By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
The United All-Stars jumped on Conneaut early and often to claim the 9-10 District 1 Little League softball title, 20-2, Thursday at Carraher Field.
The win sends United on to Clyde to face an undetermined foe in the state tournament.
United’s first hitter of the game was hit by a pitch and the nest three batters walked forcing home the first tally.
In a first inning that lasted 57 minutes, United netted 14 runs on eight walks, six errors, four hits and a hit batsman. That was all that was needed.
“We hit the ball well today,” United manager Jeff Lindberg said. “The girls have worked really hard and they used that work in this game. They were really moving along on the bases tonight.”
United’s starting hurler, Kayla Lindberg, tossed a four-inning no-hitter. She fanned 10 and walked eight. It wasn’t until the top of the third inning that a Conneaut hitter put a ball into play.
It almost cost Lindberg the no-no.
Allison Tattrie, the unfortunate victim of that big first inning for United, drilled a cannon shot right up the middle. Lindberg deflected the ball directly at shortstop Abby Carter, who fired to first base for the first out
The next two hitters walked, proving to be the last baserunners for Conneaut, and Lindberg fanned the last five hitters of the game to send United to state tourney action.
“I just tried to pay attention to the game,” Kayla Lindberg said. “She also did a fine job of listening to her coaches,” chimed in her manager father and coach Heather Stoltz, a fair country softball pitcher in her own days as Heather Lillie at Jefferson High.
Conneaut manager Tammy Hagstrom had no trouble smiling with pride for her girls after the game.
“These girls have worked really hard over the last two weeks,” she said. “I just told them that they have no reason to hang their heads just because they lost a game. Many just got started playing this year, and they have come a long way in learning the game. They’re all so young, you just can’t yell at them for a game.
“I’ve just had such a great time this year,” Tammy Hagstrom said. “I got to coach my daughter’s team during the regular season, and then I get to manage this team now. I’m just so happy to coach a great team of allstars like this one.”
Even down after such a long first inning, Conneaut maintained constant chatter during the entire game, as did the United girls.
Spirits were high, traffic on the bases was high, and a positive experience was had by all.
Leading the way for United were the top four hitters in the lineup. Carter, Morgan Stoltz, Kayla Lindberg and Jordan Vencill each scored three runs. Stoltz and Kiley Shaughnessy both drove home three, and Stoltz was the hit leader with a pair, including a first inning double.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.