The Avon softball team certainly would have liked to muster a little more offense Monday night against Decatur Central.
But with ace Haylie Foster on the circle, one run was all the Orioles needed.
Foster pitched a complete game shutout to pace Class 4A sixth-ranked Avon to a 1-0 win against the host Hawks.
The sophomore hurler dominated for the Orioles (22-3), winners of six straight games. Foster (17-3) pitched seven innings, scattering four hits, walking none and striking out seven.
Decatur Central (15-9) advanced just one runner to second base – a two-out double in the third inning – and failed to reach base to lead off an inning against Foster.
“She threw very hard today,” first-year Avon coach Jennifer Chasteen said. “She was on top of her game, for sure. It’s what we want from her.”
Avon didn’t fare much better against Hawks senior pitcher Breena Smith, but were able to capitalize early.
Orioles junior shortstop Monica Carter led off the first inning with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a fielder’s choice. With two outs in the inning, she scored on a wild pitch from Smith.
The Orioles had opportunities to cushion their lead after that but stranded five runners in seven innings, including four in scoring position.
Avon can add another achievement to an already impressive season Tuesday when the Orioles (5-0 Hoosier Crossroads) host Noblesville (5-1) with a chance to win the conference title outright.
“We really want to see all of our players at their best before sectionals,” Chasteen said. “I really believe they can achieve anything they put their minds to. We want to win the conference title; we’d be happy with that.”
“They have a lot of heart and dedication. They’re one of the best teams I’ve coached when it comes to heart and defense.”
The Orioles, who finished 18-11 last season, are aiming for their first sectional title since 2011.
“I think we’re a young team with no drama,” Foster said. “We’re like a family. When I’m pitching, I trust the defense will be there.”
Decatur Central, meanwhile, won its first regional title since 2010 last season and is also gearing up for sectionals. The Hawks start four freshmen in the field.
“This is a good week for us to execute for sectionals,” said Decatur Central coach Kristina Criswell, whose team also plays Roncalli on Wednesday. “We’re not rebuilding the program, we’re just reloading.”
“Avon did a great job. They’re a fundamentally sound team. We just need to execute and be ready for sectionals.”
After allowing a walk, single and a pair of wild pitches in the first inning, Smith settled down and pitched shutout ball the final six innings. She allowed five hits, one walk and struck out five in seven innings.
“Foster was in in a groove (for Avon),” Criswell said. “It seemed like every time we got a runner on, there were two outs. We had one bad inning, and (Smith) also controlled the game after that.”
Avon senior catcher Rachel Black was the only player with more than one hit. She finished 3-for-3 with a pair of singles and a double. Her pinch runner was left stranded at first, third and second base, respectively, to end innings.